An ethnic Buryat woman crowned "Mrs. St. Petersburg" last week says she is surprised by racial taunts she endured after making critical comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Viktoria Maladayeva, a 25-year-old married mother of one, drew hostile comments from online voters after referring to Putin as "the worst thing to happen with Russia since the 1950s."
Critics called Maladayeva a "Russophobe" and an "enemy of the people." One commenter said Maladayeva's hair should be shaved off and "her head put in the toilet."
Maladayeva, a native of Russia's Buryatia region who has lived in St. Petersburg for the past nine years, said she had expected a "negative reaction" to her Asian features but said she was "shocked" by the degree of vitriol.
"I'm horrified by the fact that there's such a poisonous attitude toward people just because they have different political views," she said, adding that Western sanctions and rising prices were among her main concerns.