02 July 2013

SCANDAL: Miss Minsk (Belarus) winners have nude photo scandals

State-run media and bloggers in authoritarian Belarus want several winners of a recent beauty pageant stripped of their titles for stripping and posing topless.

Like almost any public event, beauty pageants in the ex-Soviet nation’s capital are government-sponsored and strictly monitored.
In late July, state-run television and media ran gushing reports about participants in the Miss Minsk 2013 contest, showing them planting roses, visiting a kindergarten and even milking cows at a typical Belarusian farm.

“It’s very nice that our Belarusian belles are famous not only for having great hair, legs and slim figures, but also for their various creative abilities,” said a host on the STV television show. “Keep it up, girls!”
A day after the final show, the three winners were granted an audience with President Alexander Lukashenko, often dubbed “Europe’s last dictator,” and his eight-year-old son Nikolai.
It seems the Belarusian security service, still known as the KGB, did not run a background check on the new beauty queens and pageant finalists.
But bloggers did.
What they found is now the talk of the ex-Soviet nation that already has a reputation of a wellspring of wannabe models and sex workers in the European Union. The US State Department recognizes it as a major source and transit country for men, women and children who fall victim to international sex trafficking.
Miss Minsk 2013, a 21-year-old blonde named Yana Kontsevenko, apparently danced topless at last year’s party at a Minsk night club – where her then-boyfriend licked alcohol from her nipples, according to pictures posted on social-networking websites.
Natalya Bashura, who just missed out on taking the Miss Minsk crown, coming second, works as a go-go dancer – and a leaked photo shows her displaying her assets in a revealing bunny outfit.
Miss Friendship, Yekaterina Voitus, is a professional stripper who advertises her talents online.
Three other finalists were members of a provocative girl band whose English name resembles a Belarusian obscenity. One of the three, Anzhelika Tikhonovich, also known as “Topless DJ Lika White,” pioneered “topless DJing” in nightclubs in Belarus and neighboring Lithuania.
The scandal has polarized Belarusian society.
Belarusian media are urging the pageant’s organizers and officials to “dethrone” the beauty queens.
The opposition-minded Khartya’97 newspaper said that “the new face of Minsk confirms Belarus’ top spot in the rating of amorality.”
Blogger zimnitski wondered whether Kontsevenko “will hand the crown over or will she be forced to?”
Another blogger – from a web forum for young mothers – called her an unfortunate national symbol.
“Nobody is an angel and everyone has the right to have a good time,” blogger dump7 said. “On the other hand, I associated Miss Minsk with something exemplary, good-natured. A national symbol of a kind… And here is my country’s face (expletive).”
A government official responsible for “public morality” in Belarus blamed the pageant’s organizers and slammed the “vulgarization” of the event.
“A provocateur or provocateurs may even lie at the very core of the pageant,” Nikolai Cherdynets of the Public Council on Morality told RIA Novosti. “It’s a pity that a good thing is being degraded. The authorities in Minsk must learn from this.”
The new Miss Minsk tried to remain calm despite a squall of negative comments on her social networking page.
“Nobody has the power to ruin my happiness,” Kontsevenko said. “Don’t even try, you snakes!”
Her current boyfriend said the photos were leaked by Kontsevenko’s pageant rivals. “These days, 90 percent of young women act the same way in night clubs,” the 24-year-old man who only identified himself as Denis told the Komsomolskaya Pravda-Belarus daily.

View the pictures of Yana Kontsevenko here.