“A Gypsy woman cannot be the face of Russia” are just some of the negative comments that have flooded newly crowned Ms Russia Elmira Abdrazakova’s social media sites – causing them to be closed down. Russia has been priding itself on being a multicultural society but when Elmira was crowned Ms Russia this month one would have thought that her being the daughter of a Russian mother and a Tatar father from frigid Kemerovo Oblast – would have been greeted with pride and excitement. Unfortunately not.
Hours after winning the contest, Elmira’s social websites were bombarded by thousands of racial comments and slurs that resulted in the 18 year old closing down her sites. One Russian wrote that “a gypsy woman cannot be the face of Russia.” Elmira has said to “Vkontakte.ru” that the comments were motivated by “racism or some kind of nationalism” but added that people in the public spotlight have to expect negative reactions and vowed to have her social media network up and running again after the situation has calmed down.
(YouTube Video Courtesy of Constantin Klimov)
The reaction against Abdrazakova’s winning the contest comes at a time of rising nationalist sentiment in Russia. Nationalist Cossacks recently began patrolling Moscow streets. They have also pledged to guard Orthodox churches after the performance-art group “Pussy Riot” offended many elements of Russian society by performing part of an anti-Putin punk song in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral. What makes this interesting is that the second runner-up in the Miss Russia 2013 pageant, Irina Tumanova from the Republic of Kalmykia, has not reported any racially biased comments. Furthermore in 2004, a Tatar named Diana Zaripova won the Miss Russia contest and no nationalistic out pouring took place.
So what does this have to do with Eurovision I hear you ask? Well Russia is being represented by 21-year-old Tartan Dina Garipova ,with the song “What If”. The video for the song was shot in Moscow’s Maly Theatre where Dina was joined by 500 Muscovite’s that represent “ people of different nationalities, religions and attitudes.” However behind the scenes we have learned that Dina has received her share of racial comments and negative feedback publicly with commentators writing that she does not have “the nerve, the mentality, or the appearance” to be a star and are not supporting her at Eurovision this year.
Is the wave of Nationalism grasping Russia becoming decisive as opposed to being a uniting force? If it is any consolation, Dina on Friday came 3rd in the Irish OGAE poll for Eurovision 2013. It is one thing to compete at Eurovision against 38 other countries without having to defend yourself to your home nation. We salute Elmira and Dina for their courage in representing their country despite racial prejudices against them.
Dina will compete in Semi Final 1 along with Ireland on Tuesday may 14th.
Author/Website co-founder and Editor in Chief – Garrett Mulhall
Source – Vkontakte.ru, The Atlantic.com and Eurovision Ireland