A beauty queen who was crowned Miss Crimea 2022 has been fined 40,000 Russian rubles (about $680) by Russian authorities for singing the Ukrainian national anthem “Chervona Kalyna,” Russian state media and pro-Russian regional authorities have reported.
Olga Valeeva was spared a prison sentence because she has minor children, Russian state news agency TASS reported on Monday.
A spokesman for the Crimean Interior Ministry said in a video that it had identified a video online in which “two girls sing a song that is a battle anthem of an extremist organization.”
He said the couple had been arrested “for committing illegal actions aimed at discrediting the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, and for publicly displaying prohibited symbols.”
A court later found them guilty, the ministry said, and Valeeva’s friend was sentenced to 10 days in prison.
“Chervona Kalyna” is a Ukrainian patriotic song that went viral during the Russian invasion, and the rock band Pink Floyd has released a version.
The lyrics ask the Ukrainian nation to rise up and “rejoice” like a red kalyna bush (“chervona kalyna”) growing in a field.
“In Crimea, no one is punished for ordinary Ukrainian songs,” Oleg Kriuchkov, an adviser to the head of Russia’s Crimean administration, told Telegram on Sunday.
“But! No one will be allowed to sing patriotic anthems here! If you want to sing ‘Chervona Kalyna’ or ‘Our father is Bandera…’ we will offer you a platform; we will take you to the neutral territory of Nikolaev or Zaporozhzhia. Sing all you want,” Kriuchkov added.
Ukraine’s Crimea region was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.
Since the annexation, human rights monitors have described Crimea as descending into a police state, with local authorities and Russian security services harassing and arresting those believed to be loyal to Ukraine, including members of the Crimean Tatar community.
A 2020 US State Department report described a pattern of “unlawful or arbitrary killings”, including extrajudicial killings by Russia or Russian-led “authorities”; enforced disappearances by Russia or Russian-led “authorities”; torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” in Crimea.