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31 Jan, 2020 20:17

Crimean official quits, changes her mind, then quits again after bizarre ‘bread and fur coats’ scandal

Crimean official quits, changes her mind, then quits again after bizarre ‘bread and fur coats’ scandal

"Fur-coat gate" has gripped Crimea after a local official resigned, then re-instated herself, before – somewhat unbelievably – later resigning again. All in the space of a couple of days.

The controversy started when Maya Khuzhina was pictured handing out pieces of bread to elderly veterans of the Second World War Leningrad blockade while wearing an expensive animal skin. The siege of the city – now Saint Petersburg – by Nazi Germany and its Finnish and Italian allies, lasted 872 days and resulted in over a million deaths, a great many of them from starvation.

In her role as chair of the city council of Kerch, an ancient settlement on the Black Sea coast, Khuzhina handed out bread and medals to eleven survivors of what many consider a genocide. She then posted photos on Facebook, and that's where the trouble started.

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The images quickly gained notoriety, and in less than 24 hours there were more than 500 comments, most of which complained about how out-of-touch the politicians pictured seemed to be. The outrage was caused by the contrast between the seemingly cheap loaves of bread and the expensive fur coats of Khuzhina and the accompanying council members making up her entourage.

Later, the politicians explained to reporters that the bread was actually a meat pie, while the fur coats were “imitation,” and they stressed that the gifts were purely “symbolic.”

Following a considerable amount of interest in the national media, the head of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, stated that Khuzhina’s actions looked “like mockery, like humiliation,” and ordered an investigation into the event. Aksyonov wrote that the head of the City Council and all deputies should be fired and expelled from the ruling party, United Russia.


Despite the outcry, Khuzhina refused to show any remorse, saying:

“I don’t think I’m guilty, I think I did everything right. I received comments from those blockade women who came to me today with their children... and said that ‘we are very grateful to you; you are the only person who remembered us.’”

The story quickly took a strange turn. Despite seemingly not feeling any guilt, just three days after the scandal broke, Maya Khuzhina and her deputy Larisa Shcherbula wrote letters of resignation. However, the resignation didn't last long, as Khuzhina rescinded her decision less than one day later. "I withdraw my statement, it was a moment of weakness," she said. Unbelievably, just a couple of hours later, she resigned for a second time.

Khuzhina's resignation letter will be considered at an extraordinary session of the City Council, according to First Vice-Speaker of the Crimean Parliament Yefim Fiks.

Fiks told RIA Novosti: "Khuzhina wrote a statement and will comply with any order of the head of the Republic of Crimea. An extraordinary session is scheduled for Monday to consider her statement... she apparently said something emotionally, but then explained that she would obey any decision of the head of Crimea."

Khuzhina was born in Kerch, Crimea, and has been an elected official since September 2019.

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