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Beauties behind bars: Russia’s Penitentiary Service holds ‘Miss Penal System’ contest as 12 women battle to be prison princess

The 12 finalists, chosen from almost 100 contestants who won the local competition in their own region, will receive votes from June 7 to June 11, when the most popular woman will be given the crown. The contestants come from all over the country, including Murmansk in the far north and Sakhalin in the Far East.

Ekaterina Vasileva © pda.fsin.gov.ru

As things stand, on the second day of voting, the clubhouse leader is Diana Sat, from the small Republic of Tuva, in southern Siberia.

Diana Sat © pda.fsin.gov.ru Veronika Unzhakova © pda.fsin.gov.ru

The Penitentiary Service is not the first government agency to promote its work through a female beauty contest. In 2019, the National Guard (Rosgvardia) held its own competition – the ‘Beauty of Rosgvardia’ – won by police officer Anna Khramtsova from Sverdlovsk Region.

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A post shared by Росгвардия_Екатеринбург (@rosgvard_ekaterinburg)

Khramtsova milked her victory with some success, gaining popularity on Instagram, before eventually being fired for what she called jealousy from her female colleagues. However, according to the authorities, she was fired after posting a video on Instagram from inside a Rosgvardia facility, potentially breaching security.

The ‘Beauty of Rosgvardia’ attempted to fight her sacking through the courts, but her appeal was “completely denied.”

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A post shared by ᎯℋℋᎯ ჯ℘ᎯℳųỢℬᎯ IFBB (@khramtsovaaniya_ifbb)

“The competition I won only aggravated everything, and now there is a prejudiced attitude towards me,” Khramtsova insisted.

The new beauty contest is not the only initiative from the Federal Penitentiary Service that may look strange to Western observers. Last month, a prison in Russia’s third-largest city, Novosibirsk, revealed that it had installed British-style red phone boxes to decorate the room inmates use for calls to the outside world.

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