Putin backs Russia’s Miss Universe contestant as Ukraine rival calls him ‘evil’

Russia's despotic President Vladimir Putin has decided to try and weaponise one of the only competitions his country is not banned from.

Putin has publicly backed his country's Miss Universe contestant Anna Linnikova who is just 22 years old.

Ukraine will also have a contestant at the annual tournament, held in less than two weeks time (January 14) in New Orleans, US.

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Miss Ukraine Viktoria Apanasenko, 28, has called Russia “evil” and “cruel” in recent weeks while Putin has been backing his candidate who has prepared a costume called “The Crown of the Russian Empire” for the event.

The Kremlin has, according to sources, ordered all Putin-loving news agencies to go big on supporting Miss Linnikova in the run up to the competition.

There are reports that Ukraine is not happy with the US for giving her a visa so she can enter the country and compete.

Ukraine's entry gave a heartfelt message about competition prior to the competition.

She said: “It is very important to keep talking about the war.

“We must be a reliable rear for our Armed Forces.

“We need the support of other countries to save the lives of our people and stop the cruelty of Russia.

“I am aware of my responsibility to be one of Ukraine's ambassadors in the international arena at such a difficult and terrible time – but I am Ukrainian – we are brave, strong and determined.

“No matter what, I believe that together we can defeat the evil that has come to our lands.”

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Linnikova – who is also slated to be Russian contestant at Miss World 2023 – dreams of conquering America, said her ex-boyfriend Artemy Zhuravlev, a model and producer who fled his homeland to avoid the draft.

She has been boasting of using tsarist decorations for Miss Universe, at a time when Ukrainians are toppling a statue of Catherine the Great in Odessa, which Putin evidently seeks to invade.

The national dress is “made in the style of the Romanov era, inspired by the tiara of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna Romanova” – tragic tsarina of Nicholas II, Russia’s last monarch, she said.

“This is an absolutely luxurious and rich dress, embroidered with Swarovski stones – I think there will definitely be 1000 rhinestones,” she explained to local media.

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Russia has been banned from international competitions – yet she feels under no pressure despite the horror of the war in Ukraine, which she refuses to mention.

“No, my attitude is as positive as possible,” she said.

“I am glad that Russia is participating in the international competition.

“I believe in my strength and I hope that I will succeed.”

When she won the Miss Russia title last year, Linnikova said she valued the chance to “speak publicly about pressing problems and attract public attention to socially significant things” – but has so far refused to answer questions on Ukraine.

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Miss Universe chief executive Amy Emmerich said last month she expects some criticism for allowing both Russia and Ukraine into the contest during the war.

“Miss Universe Organization tries to stay apolitical, but we do believe in pushing and creating a platform for the delegates’ voices as loud as they may be, for whatever it is they believe,” she told Variety.

“I didn’t feel like that we should basically hold Miss Russia accountable for something that was out of her control. So that’s why we said yes.”

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