DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Trading in their combat boots and fatigues for high heels and ball gowns, female rebel fighters who normally fight Ukrainian soldiers took Saturday off to take part in a beauty pageant.
The event was organized by self-proclaimed authorities in the rebel-held city of Donetsk on the eve of International Women's Day, which is widely celebrated throughout the former Soviet Union.
Women from three main rebel battalions showed off their dinner dresses before they changed back to fatigues to receive prizes and roses.
Most of the women were local residents who followed their husbands or boyfriends to the front while one was a Russian, from the Russian western city of Bryansk. Some of the women used to work in pre-schools, while others were in private business.
"I'm not used to this," said Nataliya, a contestant in a corseted dress who gave her nom de guerre as "Radist." ''There are heels to wear and then the dress is so revealing. We are soldiers after all."