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Miss Universe beauty pageant punishes Russian girls over Fyodorova story

MOSCOW. June 9 (Interfax) - Russian girls will not win the Miss Universe beauty pageant in the next 2-3 years, the organizers and participants of the pageant said.

"In the next 2-3 years, Russian girls will have a really hard time at the Miss Universe beauty pageant. This is because of last year's situation when the Russian contestant, Oksana Fyodorova, was stripped of her crown," Nikolai Kostin, president of the Miss Russia beauty pageant, told a news conference at the Izvestia media center in Moscow on Monday.

Oksana Fyodorova, 24, who was crowned Miss Universe last year, was stripped of her title after breaking the terms of the contract. In addition, she did not fulfil the terms of the contract requiring her to make public appearances. The organizers of the pageant also accused her of secretly getting married.

"This year, Russian participant Olesya Bondarenko, who, according to my reliable information, was included in the five top beauties, was later crossed off from the list of finalists. She did not even get into the first fifteen. This was done specifically to prevent Russia from behaving as it did in Fyodorova's case," Kostin said.

Bondarenko, who was crowned Miss Russia in 2002 and who had just returned from the Miss Universe beauty pageant, has confirmed that the press and the organizers of the pageant were very unfriendly to her. "I was bombarded with questions from journalists. The main one was what Russia can hope for after what happened with Fyodorova. Although the attitude toward me as a participant did change after a couple of days, the opinion about Russian girls changed in general," she said.

The Miss Russia pageant intends to create a national beauty academy, Kostin said. "In the course of the ten years of the pageant's work, during which practically all of the highest goals have been reached, we have managed to accumulate considerable experience," Kostin said.

In general, Kostin said Russia needs a program of state support for national beauty pageants. "In many countries, there are national beauty schools, where girls undergo a lot of training, sometimes practically from childhood."

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