The 2013 Miss Universe pageant won’t be held in Moscow until next month, but it’s already busy making waves.
Andy Cohen, who co-hosted the event in 2011 and 2012 with Giuliana Ranci is boycotting this year due to Russia’s recently passed laws around homosexuality. Cohen says he “didn’t feel right as a gay man stepping foot into Russia” to attend, because the “discriminatory policies make it unsafe for gays who live there and gays coming to work or visit.”
Now, a Kosovan newspaper, Koha Ditore, is reporting that Miss Kosovo Mirjeta Shala will not be allowed to participate in this year’s pageant because Russia does not recognize Kosvo’s 2008 declaration of independence.
Last year, Kosovo’s contestant, Diana Avdiu, placed in Miss Universe’s Top 16.
Miss Albania Fioralba Dizdari is also missing from the official pageant website’s list of contestants. Reports say that Albania withdrew after Kosovo was prohibited from participating due to the close ties between the two countries.
This is Russia’s first year to ever host the Miss Universe pageant. The event will take place Saturday, Nov. 9.