The Cannes Film Festival has been slammed for allowing pro-Putin influencer and model onto the red carpet.
Victoria Bonya, 42, posted pictures snapped of her attending the event, despite organisers restricting access to Russians with Kremlin links.
A video from Variety shows the arrival of the model, businesswoman and influencer, who stalking along the red carpet unaccompanied.
Bonya – who lives in Monaco – has previously happily posed in a Putin swimsuit and T-shirts.
In one recent protest against the West’s reaction to the war, she joined other Russian socialites in sharing footage of themselves cutting up their Chanel accessories across their social media channels.
She said last month: ‘I have to say if Chanel House does not respect its clients, [why] do we have to respect Chanel? Bye bye.’
And she urged the West to ‘stop hating Russians’.
Victoria Bonya attends the opening ceremony red carpet for the 75th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 17, 2022 in Cannes, France
Bonya – who lives in Monaco – has previously happily posed in a Putin swimsuit and T-shirts
Victoria Bonya, 42, posted pictures snapped of her attending the event, despite organisers restricting access to Russians with Kremlin links
Her appearance – when anti-Putin independent journalists were blocked – triggered a social media storm.
Russian showbiz media outlet Spletnik said: ‘Twitter users were outraged that a person who publicly supports the president of Russia was on the red carpet.’
One Tweet read: ‘We invite the regime’s accomplice. Hypocrisy, nothing else.’
Another said: ‘Why is she not banned as a Putin media supporter?’
A complainant said: ‘We are not welcoming people who are tied with Russian government, and literally let her to the festival opening.’
Bonya has occupied many roles in showbiz, working as a TV presenter and game show participant, and also had acting parts – including one in the past with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
She is now seen as a social media influencer with a pro-Putin edge despite living in luxury in the West.
A representative of the [Cannes] festival said that only a ‘few’ Russian media outlets that correspond to the ‘anti-war position of the festival’ were approved, but did not provide any explanation for Bonya’s presence.
Bonya meanwhile accused her critics of ‘double standards’ and stressed she had briefly appeared in an acting role with Zelensky.
‘Why don’t they tag me in the pictures where I’m playing a movie with Zelensky?’ she asked.
Victoria Bonya is seen during the 75th annual Cannes film festival at on May 19, 2022 in Cannes, France
In one recent protest against the West’s reaction to the war, she joined other Russian socialites in sharing footage of themselves cutting up their Chanel accessories across their social media channels
The Putin supporter’s arrival at the festival coincided with the premiere of Mariupolis 2 – a documentary showing a close-up view of life under bombardment in Ukraine.
The documentary debuted at Cannes yesterday with an emotional tribute to slain director Mantas Kvedaravicius by his fiancée.
‘It’s an honor to present Mantas’ recent work. It’s great the festival honors his legacy and his work as a filmmaker and anthropologist,’ said Hanna Bilobrova, fighting back tears.
Kvedaravicius, 45, was killed in April in Mariupol, where he was filming with Bilobrova, who co-directed the project.
‘We were determined to show it,’ said festival President Thierry Fremaux, noting the organisers were ‘very firm’ in opposing the war.
Fremaux pointed to a badge on his chest that carried an anti-war message, saying, ‘I think everyone shares this position, except Putin.’
Bonya’s presence at Cannes coincided with the premiere of ‘Mariupolis 2’ – a documentary about life under Russian occupation and bombardment in Mariupol. (L-R) producer Nadia Turincev, co-director Hanna Bilobrova and editor Dounia Sichov are pictured at Cannes yesterday
Mariupol has been razed to the ground by constant Russian airstrikes and shelling since the war began
The war has loomed over the festival, which has banned official Russian delegations and invited Zelensky to address the opening ceremony live from Kyiv.
The documentary shows life in a Mariupol neighborhood under siege, with constant explosions and gunfire that at times sound at close range.
Viewers are taken inside a Methodist church, where dozens of people have taken refuge, including the elderly and children.
Men sweep rubble in the church yard and scavenge for a generator. Seen from the broken windows of bombed out buildings, the skyline is lined with columns of smoke at dusk and dotted with distant fires.
‘It’s like a community-created family,’ Bilobrova said after the screening, noting the risks they had to take to gather materials.
‘They’re like, if they’re going to die, they try to do something great for the community.’
Mayor of Mariupol Vadym Boychenko has said more than 20,000 civilians are thought to have been killed in the city since the Russian invasion began.