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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Miss World Was Not Miss Russia

Julia Kurochkina, who was crowned Miss World in a glittering internationally televised ceremony in South Africa on Saturday, did not win the title of Miss Russia in competition, although she was billed as the country's representative, the Moscow firm that sent her confirmed Wednesday.

"We had the idea to send one of our models to the pageant, so we did", said Nikolai Kostin, director of Zodiak-M. "The directors chose Julia; there was never a competition".

Zodiak-M, which specializes in public relations, entertainment and modelling, is a subsidiary of the Russian Information Agency RIA-Novosti.

The organizers of the international contest. Miss World Jersey Ltd. , said in a telephone interview from London that they were "not fully satisfied" by the way Kurochkina was entered in the competition. They also said that Zodiak-M has been telephoning the 18-year-old Muscovite to demand part of her $63, 000 prize money.

Efforts to reach Kurochkina by telephone in London were unsuccessful.

"We don't really know who the people are who sent Julia, but they phoned her after she won and asked for money", said Julia Morley, president of Miss World. She added that Kurochkina arrived penniless in South Africa for the competition and without a proper wardrobe to be able to participate.

"The company was supposed to give her spending money and clothes", Morley said. "They did not fulfill their contract".

Morley said Kurochkina was staying her in London and would not return to Russia until the Miss World organization was assured that she would be received with enthusiasm at home.

"A proper homecoming must be prepared for Julia, with stars from the Russian show-business world, the press and the mayor of Moscow", Morley said, adding that the event should also be linked to a charitable cause with proceeds going to needy children.

Kostin of Zodiac-M denied the allegations.

"No one has even spoken to Julia, so there was no way we could ask for anything", he said. "We only sent a fax asking when she is coming back, because her parents are very worried".

Kostin, who at first asked for money to talk to a reporter, said that Kurochkina had signed a contract with Zodiak-M promising "about 10 percent or so" of whatever prize money she won.

Later, another director of Zodiac-M phoned back to say that Kostin's information was not correct.

"We don't care about any money and we never called her", said Marina Kruglova, who is in charge of all the agency's models.

"It was very hard to raise money for her trip, but we did not send her empty-handed", she said. "I even loaned Julia some of my own clothes".

Kruglova said Zodiak-M gave Kurochkina $500 in spending money and $650 to buy a round-trip ticket from London to South Africa, much less than a normal commercial ticket would cost.

Eric Morley, who is the joint director of Miss World with his wife, Julia, said: "We're not fully satisfied by the competition, but since it was the first time a Miss Russia joined the contest, we made an exception. We simply did not have the time to check out the credentials due to the breakup of the Soviet Union".

He explained that each country is appointed a license holder which has the right to hold a competition and send a representative to the pageant. Whether or not Zodiac-M will be allowed to be next year's license holder has yet to be decided, he said. Zodiak-M also provided a contestant from Russia for the Miss Europe pageant last year.

Despite the unusual circumstances involved in the choice of Kurochkina as "Miss Russia", nationwide competitions have been held for beauty queens in the past, including the choice this year of 17-year-old Julia Etina as Miss Commonwealth of Independent States. She was chosen to compete in the Miss Universe contest, but because she was under age, the runner-up, Lydia Kuborskaya, was sent.

Morley said there had been entrants and winners of the Miss World title in the past who had not come through competitions in their home countries, but he could not remember when this last occurred.

Kurochkina "does not owe anyone anything", Julia Morley said, maintaining that the model only had a contract with Miss World. It calls for her to visit numerous countries to make appearances for both charitable and commercial purposes.

Kostin said that Zodiak-M chose Kurochkina as "Miss Russia" from among the company's models "for her intellect and because she speaks English".

"Our agency was chosen to provide a candidate because we have the most authority and we have parliamentary support", he added.