MOSCOW Russia's candidate for a global beauty pageant veered away from platitudes about world peace to deliver a stinging condemnation of her homeland under President Vladimir Putin, calling it a "beggar country" and a great artery that feeds a corrupt elite.
When Natalia Pereverzeva, who was crowned Miss Moscow in 2010 and posed topless in Playboy last year, was asked what made her proud of her country at the environmentally conscious Miss Earth pageant in the Philippines, she launched into a tirade against corruption and crony capitalism.
"My Russia...is (a) poor, long, suffering country, mercilessly torn to pieces by greedy, dishonest, unbelieving people. My Russia - it is a great artery, from which the "chosen" few are draining away its wealth," the 24-year old brunette wrote on the Miss Earth website. (here)
She also called Russia "an endless Caucasian war," in a reference to two wars the Russian army fought with separatists in the North Caucasus province of Chechnya and an ongoing insurgency that has spread to the broader mostly Muslim region.
Her criticisms against corruption, which have been repeated more often by ordinary Russians since the start of the biggest protests against Putin's rule, caused a backlash among some commentators in the country's largely Kremlin-friendly press.
"I wouldn't advise my participant to represent their country in such a way... I just think a beauty competition is not a place for criticizing one's country," modeling consultant Elizaveta Komarova said in tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda.
Pereverzeva also praised her country's famous literary figures, including 20th century poet Sergei Yesenin and 19th century literary great Alexander Pushkin.
She also said she loved her country, calling it "a kind cow with very big eyes, funny horns and always chewing ... Oh, what sweet milk she gives!"
(Reporting By Thomas Grove, editing by Paul Casciato)