Although there are some who argue that pageant winners are a force for good in this world, they are not usually expected to do much more than look nice in a swimsuit and utter a few platitudes about world peace.
In this sense, participants in the Miss Earth competition are not your usual run-of-the-mill models with sparkling dentures and big hair.
Unlike their Miss World and Miss Universe counterparts, Miss Earth contestants are at least expected to be environmentally aware and to use their exalted beauty-queen status to promote ecological causes (while also looking good in a swimsuit, of course).
This year's Russian entrant, however, probably gave Miss Earth's politically committed organizers more than even they bargained for.
WATCH: Miss Earth Russia 2012 -- Natalia Pereverzeva
When Natalia Pereverzeva was called upon to answer a seemingly innocuous question about what makes her proud of her country, she demonstrated a charming ability to wax lyrical about her homeland:
My Russia -- it is bright, warm, patched, but it is so pleasant to slumber under it on a winter evening when the storm rages outside. My Russia -- it is a beautiful stately girl, full-blooded, rosy, in embroidered Sarafan, with long and thick plait, in which multicolored fillets are twisted, a beautiful fairy-tale girl. My Russia -- it is a kind cow with very big eyes, funny horns and always chewing; oh, what sweet milk she gives! Oh, how it smells -- meadow herbs and the sun.
Nonetheless, despite her love for her country, it seems Miss Pereverzeva is not blind to its faults. In fact, once she gets on this subject, she really lets rip:
But my Russia -- it is also my poor, long-suffering country, mercilessly torn to pieces by greedy, dishonest, unbelieving people. My Russia -- it is a great artery from which the "chosen" few people are draining away its wealth. My Russia is a beggar. My Russia cannot help her elderly and orphans. From it, bleeding, like from a sinking ship, engineers, doctors, teachers are fleeing because they have nothing to live on. My Russia -- it is an endless Caucasian war. These are the embittered brother nations who formerly spoke in the same language and who now prohibit teaching of it in their schools. My Russia -- it is a winner which has overthrown fascism but bought the victory at the expense of the lives of millions of people. How, tell me, how and why does the nationalism prosper in this country? My dear, poor Russia.
Like a true patriot, however, Pereverzeva thinks the situation is not beyond redemption. Warming to her theme, she seems to follow the lead of Aleksei Navalny, Boris Nemtsov, and others by calling on ordinary Russians and civil society to reclaim their great country:
I believe that each person living in Russia should identify himself with it. Feel the participation and take a proactive stance whatever it concerns. There are moments to which we close our eyes and reject as spoiling a look. Everyday we meet the facts that are unpleasant to us, that are unworthy of our homeland. Only we can improve the situation. We must learn to express ourselves and to show our best quality traits. We should try not to live only as consumers but to develop ourselves, read books, listen to interesting music, and be interested in scientific achievements. Politics, to communicate with good people, develop creativity, bringing into this world something new. We should bring up our children and talk to them on spiritual topics, disclose their talents and only then we reject everything unnecessary, affected, and pretentious. When we seriously begin to take care of our country it will blossom and shine brightly.
Needless to say, Pereverzeva's remarks have caused quite a kerfuffle on the Russian web, and discussion boards have been hopping since her comments first surfaced on the local blogosphere.
Despite her harsh words about her country, it appears Pereverzeva's remarks have struck a chord with many Russians.
Of the several thousands who participated in an online poll conducted by "Komsomolskaya pravda," more than 90 percent said they agreed with her comments.
-- Coilin O'Connor