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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Russia Rigs Mrs. World Pageant

The Sunday Times reports that Mrs. Costa Rica, left, had only a few seconds to enjoy her newly won crown in the Mrs. World pageant held in Russia's "Northern Capital" of St. Petersburg before she was unseated in favor of Mrs. Russia. The Times relates:

IT WAS billed as a celebration of female beauty and family values set against the picturesque backdrop of Russia’s second city of St Petersburg. Instead, the Mrs World 2006 contest has become a showcase for the sort of political intrigue, bureaucratic intransigence and organisational chaos that has plagued post-Soviet Russia.

First of all, several contestants (the prettiest ones?) were refused visas for last month’s beauty pageant, in which entrants had to be over 18 and married. Then, the Mrs World prize jewellery was impounded at St Petersburg’s airport because customs officials said it was not accompanied by the correct paperwork (or the correct bribe?).

Now contestants are accusing the organisers of rigging the competition in favour of Mrs Russia. (No doubt just a pack of ravenous wild-eyed Russophobes!)

When the contest finally went ahead on April 29, the crown was at first awarded to Mrs Costa Rica, Andrea Bermudez-Romero. But no sooner was she crowned than David Marmel, the pageant’s American producer, leapt on to the stage and announced that there had been a mistake (the mistake apparently was a delay in the receipt of a certain payment?).

Without further explanation, the crown was whisked off a weeping Mrs Costa Rica’s head and handed to Mrs Russia — Sofia Arzhakovskaya, 18, a dancer (or should that be "dancer"), who is married to Sergei Veremeyenko, a (50-year-old) banker ranked as Russia’s 100th richest man (because he's in the Kremlin's pocket).

She also won a $6,000 (£3,200) shearling coat and some jewellery, while Mrs Costa Rica was left with nothing as runner-up. (Not true! Not true! She had the pleasure of visiting Russia, that's more than enough pleasure for any woman! To last a lifetime!) The other contestants were so incensed that they tore off their sashes and stormed off, forcing organisers to repeat the ceremony — to be broadcast on May 29 — with only a handful of women.

Victoria Louise Lally, Mrs Great Britain, said: “I felt embarrassed to be part of it all. It’s really hard on these women who’ve worked so hard and been away from their families for so long.” (You think she's embarrassed? Can you imagine the banker who delayed that payment?)

She sympathises with Mrs Canada and Mrs Philippines, who have both made allegations that the contest was rigged since returning home. (Again, clearly just jealous Russophobes!)

Mrs Lally, a 25-year-old model from Liverpool, told The Times that contestants had to rehearse for up to 12 hours daily for ten days and were told that they would be sent home if they were late.

They also had to share rooms at the four-star Soviet-style Pribaltiskaya Hotel. According to other contestants, Mrs Russia, did not stay at the hotel, missed most rehearsals, and had her own private dressing room and make-up artist. (four-star Soviet-style? isn't that an oxymoron?)

“She spent most of the time on her mobile phone surrounded by her four bodyguards,” Mrs Lally said.

Mr Veremeyenko founded the Kremlin-linked bank, Mezhprombank, in 1993 and was ranked Russia’s 100th richest man (despite his being so rich, you'll get more Google hits for "La Russophobe" than you will for "Sergei Veremeyenko" -- but Mr. V's not hiding anything, really he's not) by Finans magazine this year, with an estimated fortune of $410 million (£219 million) (he's slipping I guess, he was #90 in 2004 according to Forbes).

He also ran (as the Kremlin's shil) unsuccesfully for President of the Russian republic of Bashkortostan in 2003. (unsuccessfully, tis true, but he's clearly learned a thing or two about how to win a vote since then!)

Mr Marmel was not available for comment, but Bob Mazza, vice-president of Marmel Entertainment, denied that the contest was rigged.

“The lady who brings out the sash put it on the wrong contestant. It was a mistake and it was corrected immediately,” he told The Times. (Silly lady! I guess she thought she was supposed to put in on the one who actually got the highest score! Probably didn't realize she was in Russia. Or maybe she just didn't think her cut was big enough).

“It’s a competition and there’s always going to be someone who’s disappointed." He admitted, however, that the pageant had been plagued by logistical problems, and that Marmel’s Russian partners had even seized the video footage of the pageant for several days.“This year, it was a very difficult experience,” he said. “It made every day a challenge.” (Hmm . . . sounds like the gentleman is beginning to get some true Russian insight!)

You can't make this stuff up, folks, La Russophobe kids you not. Welcome back to the USSR. Note that Kommersant's report on the events ignores the rigging entirely. But Pravda will undoubtedly tell the whole story. Kommersant does mention, however, that no Russian had ever won the title before this year -- obviously because the thing had yet to be held in Russia! Clearly, Russia is the only place where Russians can get a fair shake, what with all that evil Russophobia everywhere else.


irina slutsky said...

just making sure yu saw this article, i'm sure you did. it's really sad for everyone involved.

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