Revealing deep rifts in Russian society, online detractors target the new Miss Russia, an ethnic Tatar, for her exotic looks.
Officially Russia prides itself on being a diverse, multicultural country.
So it seemed appropriate when 18-year-old Elmira Abdrazakova -- the daughter of a Russian mother and a Tatar father from frigid Kemerovo Oblast -- was crowned Miss Russia 2013 on March 2.
But the online reaction was enough to wipe the smile off Abdrazakova's face. Within hours of her victory, an avalanche of thousands of hate messages filled with ethnic slurs came in from people espousing Russian nationalist views, forcing Abdrazakova to shut down her social-media pages.
One person wrote that there should be a law barring "Tatar women and also highland and lowland ethnic Shors" from participating in beauty contests.
Another wrote that "a gypsy woman cannot be the face of Russia."
The reaction prompted Abdrazakova to shut down her page on the popular social-networking site Vkontakte.ru "in order to avoid further provocations," as she told the Russian News Service. She said that the comments were motivated by "racism or some kind of nationalism" but added that people in the public spotlight have to expect negative reactions.