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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechens Crown a Queen

ReutersDzhabrailova dancing onstage Saturday after being crowned Miss Chechnya.
GROZNY — A 15-year-old high school student danced and baked her way to the title of Miss Chechnya on Saturday, beating out twin sisters for the grand prize of a sleek Toyota sedan.

Zamira Dzhabrailova beat a total of 19 contestants to take the crown at the first beauty pageant held in Chechnya since 1988. The Chechen administration organized the pageant as part of its efforts to show that calm has returned to the war-scarred republic.

"The vote was unanimous," said Satsita Israilova, a pageant judge and director of Grozny Public Library. "We are happy about the choice, and we can proudly present our winner to all of Russia."

Dzhabrailova, a brunette with a broad smile, said she was excited about the opportunity to represent Chechnya at the Miss North Caucasus pageant later this year and, if she wins, the Miss Russia pageant.

"I want to be a model," said Dzhabrailova, who dances with a folk group, Vainakh.

Wearing a flowing, yellow traditional Chechen dress, she celebrated her victory with a dance onstage at the Grozny Central Concert Hall.

The first and second runners-up were 15-year-old fraternal twins Fatima and Dzhanora Khazuyeva, who each took home a Zhiguli. Both are also high school students.

Zaira Dudayeva, 17, who placed fourth, also won a Zhiguli, while fifth-place finisher Kheda Dadayeva, 16, will go on a trip to Europe. Both are students at Chechnya State University.

Ilona Chachayeva, a 22-year-old student in Moscow, won a VAZ-2107 for her sixth-place finish.

Contestants had to demonstrate their ability to dance, read poetry and cook — by baking cakes — and they recorded videos for the judges in which they spoke about their lives. To show their poise, they also fielded general-knowledge questions from the judges.

All the girls wore traditional Chechen costumes, and there was no swimsuit competition.