A Crimea beauty queen winner has been convicted of ‘discrediting’ Vladimir Putin’s army by singing a pro-Ukrainian song.
Olga Valeyeva, 34, posted a video of her and a friend singing Chervona Kalyna, an anthem of Ukrainian resistance, to her Instagram account.
Valeyeva won the Mrs Crimea crown this year, but the clip landed the mother-of-two in trouble in the Ukrainian peninsular that was annexed by Russia in 2014.
Under Russia’s draconian laws introduced to crackdown on criticism of Putin’s army following the despot’s February invasion of mainland Ukraine, Valeyeva was fined, while her friend was jailed for ten days.
Both women were charged with ‘discrediting’ the Russian armed forces and ‘promoting extremist symbols’ by singing the song in Ukrainian – as Moscow’s forces continue to be pushed back by Kyiv’s forces on the mainland.
Russian prosecutors claimed they had ‘displayed Nazi symbols in public’, although Putin’s officials now chose to view any Ukrainian symbols as Nazi. They later were forced to record a video to issue grovelling apologies for their act.
Putin’s repressive police see the song as ‘an anthem of Ukrainian nationalist formations, including groups banned in Russia.’ According to international law, Crimea is Ukraine. It was seized by Putin’s armed forces in 2014.
Valeyeva was fined £600, seen as a lighter sentence because she has young children. Her friend Viktoria Amargalieva, 33, was thrown behind bars for ten days.
In her humbling apology Olga said: ‘I sincerely apologise for singing Chervona Kalina, the meaning of which I had no idea.
‘I did not know or imagine that it was nationalistic and I in no way meant any propaganda message by singing it. I also want to apologise for unknowingly offending or insulting citizens by singing this song.’
Before being put in jail, Amargalieva said: ‘I want to apologise that we performed a song with a meaning we did not know.
‘I apologise to everyone who may have been offended.’