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‘Miss Ukraine’ purges contestants for ties to Russia


Sep 14, 2023

The move comes after online complaints about several participants in the beauty pageant

Three of the ‘Miss Ukraine 2023’ contestants have been disqualified and two withdrew on Wednesday after the pageant set up an “ethics review” board to investigate claims by a Ukrainian comedian that some of the women had connections to Russia. 

“Based on the results of [an] investigation conducted by a special ethics board, we inform you that the unethical facts regarding the contest participants have unfortunately been confirmed. Therefore, the committee is forced to exclude three participants from the competition,” the pageant organizers said in an Instagram post on Wednesday evening.

The organizers did not clarify who exactly was purged and for what kind of violation. According to the Russian Telegram channel Mash, two more contestants voluntarily withdrew from the pageant. Their names were also not disclosed. 

Miss Ukraine cited “great demand of the public” to set up the board on Tuesday, adding that it reserves the right to disqualify contestants based on the results of its investigations.

“We are sincerely grateful for all the information that comes to us. It is also important that each of us separate unsubstantiated words from real facts, apply critical thinking and verify information coming from various sources,” the organizers added.

The drama began on Monday, when Ukrainian comedian and social media personality Andrey Luzan wrote on his Instagram about the connections some ‘Miss Ukraine 2023’ contestants may have with Russia.

Luzan claimed that one of the models, Kseniya Magera, is “friends with Russians” and has visited the restaurant of Russian businessman Arkady Novikov, who has been involved with President Vladimir Putin’s electoral campaign. Magera used to live in Moscow, took part in the ‘Future of Russia’ contest, and has continued to communicate with Russian models even after moving to Dubai last year, Luzan said.

The comedian named several other contestants as well. Irina Pilayeva, he said, was spotted cozying up to a Russian restaurant magnate who used to sponsor ‘miss Ukraine’ before 2022. He called Ekaterina Chuvashova the daughter of a Russian spy. Three more contestants were flagged for being residents of Donetsk and Lugansk, regions that voted last year to join Russia.

Luzan also claimed that many of the contestants “attend parties of Russian oligarchs as escorts in Courchevel,” the posh French ski resort, though he did not name any names.

Other social media users piled on, accusing the aspiring beauty queens of insufficient patriotism for using Russian on social media, or earning income from sources linked to Russia.