Russian ex-beauty queen refutes reports of divorce from former Malaysian King

"This is an act of provocation, we have never been divorced," said former Russian beauty queen Oksana Voevodina. PHOTO: RIHANAPETRA/INSTAGRAM

KUALA LUMPUR - Former Russian beauty queen Oksana Voevodina said she is still married to former Malaysian King, Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan, days after news emerged that the couple had divorced following a whirlwind romance.

"I have not been given any admonition of divorce," she told Malaysian news portal Malaysiakini. "I was in Russia with my child. We were not in Singapore in June for any divorce proceedings."

She added: "This is an act of provocation, we have never been divorced."

The New Straits Times reported on Wednesday (July 17) that the divorce was registered on July 1, adding that its sources said a copy of the couple's divorce certificate making its rounds on social media was genuine.

The certificate, which bears the Kelantan state crest and is marked as the copy of the wife, indicates that the divorce was done through the utterance of the word "talak" three times - the most severe and irreversible form of divorce in Islam.

The date of the divorce was listed as June 22 and it was marked as taking place in Singapore.

Ms Voevodina's lawyer Evgeny Tarlo on Wednesday denied that the marriage has ended.

"Oksana married for love and is still married," the Daily Mail UK quoted him as saying.

"Divorce is just talk from a yellowish (scandalous) media. We have no official papers. We do not know anything."

On Friday, a spokesman for the Syariah Court in Singapore said that there are no records of divorce filed by the couple at Syariah Court Singapore.

News of the divorce comes barely two months after the couple's son, Ismail Leon, was born, and about a year after the pair's surprise marriage in Moscow.

Though the palace has not made an official comment on the matter, on Tuesday it issued a statement laying out the correct use of royal titles.

"Please be informed that no one can be called as Kelantan Queen, Kelantan King, Sultanah Kelantan or Queen of Kelantan without any official announcement from Istana Kelantan," the palace said in a statement. It did not mention Ms Voevodina.

Russian-born Ms Voevodina started an Instagram account last month. The verified account has some 360,000 followers and several posts include pictures of her with Sultan Muhammad V, along with long captions about her life and how the couple met.

Taking the name Rihana Oksana Petra, the 27-year-old also shared about motherhood and married life with the once-divorced Sultan Muhammad V. But she has not been officially recognised by the state as the new Sultanah. Sultan Muhammad V does not have children from his first marriage.

A post on July 10 said she got married last June and in May, gave birth to her son Ismail Leon, "Inshallah (if God willing) His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of Kelantan and, Inshallah, the future King of Malaysia".

Sultan Muhammad V, 49, has made few public appearances since stepping down as Malaysia's King on Jan 6, becoming the first monarch in the country's history to abdicate.

He had ascended the throne in December 2016 and was meant to serve for five years under a rotating monarchy system shared between the country's nine royal households.

While he did not state his reasons for abdicating, royal observers have said speculation last November about his marriage to Ms Voevodina, while on medical leave, was a factor.

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