Three of the ‘Miss Ukraine 2023’ contestants were disqualified and two more withdrew on Wednesday. The exits came after the pageant set up an “ethics review” board to investigate claims by a local comedian that some of the women had connections to Russia.
The organizers did not clarify who exactly was purged and for what kind of violations. According to the Russian Telegram channel Mash, two more contestants voluntarily withdrew from the pageant. Their names were also not disclosed.
“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.
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, Ksenia Magera, is “friends with Russians” and has visited a restaurant owned by Russian businessman Arkady Novikov, who previously had close ties to President Vladimir Putin. 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.