A Crimean beauty queen, Olga Valeeva was fined 40,000 Russian rubles ($680), by the occupying Russian authorities for singing the patriotic Ukrainian song “Chervona Kalyna.” Valeeva was spared a jail sentence because she has underage children.

The Mrs. Queen Beauty – Crimea 2022, and another woman, her friend, sang the battle anthem of an extremist organization. Russian authorities suspected them of committing illegal activities aimed to discredit the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, as well as publicly exhibiting prohibited symbols. Valeeva and her friend were found guilty by a court and the latter was punished with 10 days of detention, CNN reported.

Valeeva posted on Instagram before she was given the fine that she was not familiar with the meaning of the song. She also said she did not want to harm anyone and added that she was just singing a Ukrainian song. She mentioned that she and her friend thought it was just a little song that they had known for a long time.

Chervona Kalyna is a patriotic Ukrainian song that went viral during Russia’s invasion. Pink Floyd, the rock band, has released a version of the song. Its lyrics encourage the Ukrainian nation to rise and celebrate like a red kalyna shrub that grows in a field.

Meanwhile, Oleg Kriuchkov, adviser to the Russian administration head of occupied Crimea, said that no one is punished for normal Ukrainian songs in Crimea. However, singing nationalist hymns is not allowed. Kriuchkov added that if anyone wants to sing ‘Chervona Kalyna’ or "Our father is Bandera…" the administration will provide a platform in neutral territory in Nikolaev or Zaporozhzhia that will enable anyone to sing all they want.

The Ukrainian region of Crimea was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014. Since then, human rights observers have seen Crimea's descent into a police state wherein local authorities and Russian security services persecute and apprehend those they perceive to be loyal to Ukraine, including the Crimean Tatar community members.

A 2020 U.S. State Department report illustrated a pattern of unlawful or arbitrary killings that include extrajudicial killings by Russia or Russia-led officers, forced disappearances by authorities, torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment in Crimea.

A Ukrainian police officer walks at a burial site in a forest on the outskirts of Izyum, eastern Ukraine on September 16, 2022.
A Ukrainian police officer walks at a burial site in a forest on the outskirts of Izyum, eastern Ukraine on September 16, 2022. Getty Images | SERGEY BOBOK / AFP

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