Russia fined a Crimea beauty queen for singing a patriotic Ukrainian song on social media

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Russian authorities fined a beauty queen in the Russian-occupied Crimea region of Ukraine $680 for singing a patriotic Ukrainian song, Russian media has reported.

Crimea’s interior ministry said on Telegram that a woman was fined 40,000 rubles over a video that showed her and another woman singing.

Russian state news agency TASS identified her as Olga Valeeva, who was crowned Miss Crimea 2022.

TASS said on Sunday that the song is “considered the anthem of Ukrainian nationalist groups.”

Crimea’s interior ministry said the two women sang “the battle anthem of an extremist organization” and that they were “suspected of committing illegal actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, as well as publicly displaying prohibited symbols.”

Valeeva received only a fine because she has children, but the other woman in the video was sentenced to 10 days of “administrative arrest,” the interior ministry said.

The song,”Chervona Kalyna,” tells Ukraine to “rise up” and has gone viral since Russia invaded Ukraine, CNN reported. 

Valeeva said on Instagram before she was given the fine that she was not aware of the meaning of the song, The Guardian reported.

She said that she did not wish to “harm anyone,” and added “we just sang a Ukrainian song. We thought it was just a little song that we knew for a long time,” per The Guardian.

On Monday, Crimea’s interior ministry shared a video on Telegram of two women with their faces blurred, in which they apologized for singing the song, according to a translation by The Guardian.

One woman says in the video, according to The Guardian: “I did not know and did not realize that it had a nationalist character and definitely did not want to spread propaganda by singing it.”

TASS reported that the video of them singing appeared online on Sunday.

It is not clear when the video was recorded, or if Valeeva shared it herself.

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, though Crimea is recognized internationally as part of Ukraine.

Oleg Kriuchkov, an adviser to Russia’s government in Crimea, said on Telegram on Sunday: “In Crimea, no one is punished for normal Ukrainian songs.”

“But! No one will allow nationalist hymns to be sung here!” He added anyone who did would be taken “to neutral territory to Nikolaev or Zaporozhzhia. Sing all you want!”

Russia has tried to stamp out marks of Ukrainian identity in the areas of the country is occupies.

It has introduced Russian passports and money in the eastern regions that it seized after its invasion on February 24, something it had already done in Crimea.

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