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The Winner of the Miss Europe 2024 beauty pageant, Russian national Roza Gadieva, has been accused of “buying” her way to victory by an outraged Ukrainian contestant who claimed she herself was being bullied.

During the competition, which took place in Lebanon last month, Miss Ukraine, Melena Melnichuk, made a number of posts on her Instagram account, accusing Gadieva as well as the organizers of the event of intentionally provoking her. Melnichuk claims she was forced to take pictures together with the Russian contestant, threatened, and even made to wear similar dresses.

After Gadieva took first place, Melnichuk accused the Russian national of paying off the judges for her victory while she herself did not receive any prizes and did not make the top three.

However, Miss Belarus, Irina Maksimovich, who took third place in the competition, decided to stand up for the Russian contestant. During a bus ride after the award ceremony, Maksimovich lashed out at Melnichuk for her Instagram posts and the accusations she had leveled against the other contestants.

“Don’t you have a war? Why are you shaking your t**s at a beauty contest?” Maksimovich could be heard telling the Ukrainian in a video of the incident.

After the altercation, Melnichuk posted again, claiming that the Russian and Belarusian contestants had bought their placings for €20,000 ($21,600) and €5,000 ($5,400), respectively. 

In an interview after the award ceremony, Gadieva, who is from Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan, admitted that some people “just didn’t like that I am from Russia. Some didn’t even want to stand next to me on stage. But I did not react to this in any way and didn’t enter into any altercations. Maybe that became a factor in my victory.”

Gadieva, who has two children, speaks Arabic and English and is a linguist by training, has also claimed to have entered the competition on a whim after hearing from a friend about a qualifying round in Moscow. “That very same day I boarded a plane and flew to the competition,” Gadieva said.

During the competition in Lebanon, Gadieva went on stage wearing a historic Tatar costume experts estimate to have cost some $14,000, as it was embroidered with gold thread and studded with pearls, provided by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan.