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Pics Cost Russian Soccer's 'Miss Charming' Her Title

  • Farangis Najibullah

In the background is a wall with graffiti including "14/88," frequently used as code among white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups for a 14-word racist slogan and a reference to the notorious Nazi salute ("Heil Hitler") whose initials repeat the eighth letter of the alphabet.

In the background is a wall with graffiti including "14/88," frequently used as code among white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups for a 14-word racist slogan and a reference to the notorious Nazi salute ("Heil Hitler") whose initials repeat the eighth letter of the alphabet.

A young Russian soccer fan who described her own personality as "explosive" and believes "whatever happens, it's for the best" has lost the Russian Premier League's "Miss Charming" title three days after receiving it.

Olga Kuzkova, 21, was stripped of the crown on July 21 after she was accused of being a dedicated neo-Nazi and white-supremacy sympathizer.

The scandal broke after Internet users, including antiracism campaigners, discovered controversial pictures and photographs on Kuzkova's account on the VKontakte social network.

Most of Kuzkova's VKontakte photos depict her playing soccer, kissing her boyfriend, or simply showing off her figure. Among them, however, is a series of images that casts a different light on the enthusiastic CSKA Moscow fan.

One picture depicts Kuzkova raising her right hand in what many Internet users condemned as a modified Nazi salute.

In the background is a wall with graffiti including "14/88," frequently used as code among white supremacists and neo-Nazi groups for a 14-word racist slogan and a reference to the notorious Nazi salute ("Heil Hitler") whose initials repeat the eighth letter of the alphabet.

The number 88 also appears in a separate image on Kuzkova's social-media page.

The page includes a meme containing a swastika-wearing blond woman insulting Jews and people from Russia's North Caucasus region.

Another photo shows Kuzkova with a male friend who has "14" and "88" tattooed on his calves. The duo also feature in several photos wearing T-shirts with skulls and Celtic crosses, frequent neo-Nazi and white-supremacist symbols.

"White Love" reads a meme that depicts the duo cuddling and kissing.

Russian media reported that Kuzkova deleted several controversial images, but others still remained on her VKontakte account on July 22.

The images caused outrage among soccer fans and others. The antiracism group CSKA Fans Against Racism demanded that contest organizers "deprive Kuzkova of the title immediately."

Rampant Racism

The scandal came days after the opening match of the Russian Premier League in Moscow was overshadowed by racist chants targeting an African player.

Monkey chants from the crowd prompted Ghanaian Emmanuel Frimpong to give fans the finger during the July 17 match between FC Ufa and Spartak Moscow.

Frimpong later apologized for his reaction, but the incident renewed questions about Russia's suitability to host the next World Cup in 2018.

Russia has adopted the Fans' Law, which stipulates up to a seven-year match ban, hefty penalties, and even 15 days' incarceration for violations that include expressions of racism and hatred.

Racism remains rife in Russian soccer, with fans routinely bursting into monkey chants when black players control the ball.

CSKA was forced by European football's governing body, UEFA, to play two matches in empty stadiums this year for racist taunts during a February match.

In another incident, FC Rostov head coach Igor Gamula was suspended for five matches last year after telling media, "Enough dark-skinned players, we've got six of the things."

He later apologized and sought to downplay his comments as Russian humor that Western media "don't understand."

Miss Charming is a title in the annual Miss Premier League pageant, a beauty contest among female fans nominated by each of the league's 16 clubs.

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