Miss Russia says competitors at the Miss Universe pageant 'avoided' and 'shunned' her and alleged the competition was biased in favor of the Ukrainian and US contestants
By Rebecca Cohen,Samantha Grindell,
Miss Russia said contestants at the 71st annual Miss Universe pageant "avoided" and "shunned" her.
She added that she received threats from Ukrainian social media users during the contest.
"The girls from Ukraine and Switzerland simply ran from me like fire," Anna Linnikova said.
Miss Russia said the Miss Universe pageant was "very difficult" and that she "continues to receive threats" from Ukrainian social media users as a result of her participation in the competition.
The 71st annual Miss Universe pageant was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the final competition took place on January 14. R'Bonney Gabriel, who was representing the USA, won the competition after facing allegations of rigging when she won the Miss USA pageant.
In an interview with Evening Moscow published Tuesday , Miss Russia Anna Linnikova said she "faced a continuous stream of insults and threats from Ukrainian social media users" during the competition and even faced "negative comments from longtime acquaintances from Ukraine."
She did not specificially mention the war between Russia and Ukraine during her interview with the Evening Moscow, but Linnikova appeared to imply she was "shunned" because of the ongoing conflict between the countries.
"And many others avoided me and shunned me simply by learning about my origins," she continued. "The girls from Ukraine and Switzerland simply ran from me like fire!"
She went on to say that it was a "pity" Miss Ukraine Viktoria Apanasenko didn't want to speak to her because she was Russian.
"I tried to make contact, but all efforts were in vain. Everyone saw Viktoria's demonstrative behavior — this is her choice, and I do not hold a grudge," she said.
But Apanasenko previously spoke to the Daily Beast about struggling to compete alongside Linnikova, telling the outlet that Linnikova only approached her for a selfie.
"Until the very last moment I hoped that Miss Russia would come up to me and say sorry, but she only came up to me to get a selfie for what I think were propaganda purposes," Apanesenko told the Daily Beast. "Miss Russia did not say a word about the war. People told me it would be dangerous for her."
Apanasenko also told the Daily Beast she thinks the Miss Universe organization underestimated the toll it would take on her to compete alongside Linnikova.
"I am more than grateful to Miss Universe for their support, but I am not sure the organizers understood what it felt like for me to be standing and smiling on the same stage with Miss Russia who was wearing a red dress, the color of blood," Apanasenko said to the Daily Beast, speaking of Linnikova's "Crown of the Russian Empire" costume.
Apanasenko's costume was designed to look like the Archangel Michael , who is known as a protector. Speaking to Insider , Apanasenko said she created the concept for the costume as she watched the war in Ukraine, and it was made over the course of four months with limited supplies and candlelight.
In addition to her tension with Apanasenko, Linnikova also said she feared for her safety during the Miss Universe pageant because of harassment she received on social media.
She said that when the public learned the address of the hotel where she and the other participants were staying, she received threats and "was really scared for my life because there were threats of physical violence on the condition that I go on stage."
Linnikova told Evening Moscow she believes "everything about the top-16 stage has an exclusively political context" and that her inability to reach the contest's final stage didn't have "anything to do with the quality of my performance."
She added that it is "very symbolic" that both an American and a Ukrainian won two nominations at the competition. Miss Ukraine did not make the top 16 either, though she did win a Spirit of Carnival award during the pageant. The award went to the contestant who embodied Carnival Cruise Line's "values of fun, friendship, diversity and inclusion," according to the company's website .
Representatives for Miss Universe did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
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