Has Malaysian Sultan Muhammad V divorced his Russian wife Oksana Voevodina?

Bhavan Jaipragas

The secretive marriage of Malaysia’s Sultan Muhammad V to Russian beauty queen Oksana Voevodina has once again become a source of heightened intrigue after local media reported the pair have split just months after their wedding and the birth of their first child.

Muhammad V, the hereditary monarch of the state of Kelantan, married Oksana last year in a lavish private ceremony in Moscow. Their marriage attracted particular attention as the sultan was at the time the country’s Yang di Pertuan Agong – the title held by the ceremonial head of state which is rotated among the nine Malay sultans every five years.

The 49-year-old stunned the country by abdicating in January just two years into this term, offering no reason for the unprecedented decision. Commentators suggested his abdication was prompted by opposition within royal circles to his marriage to Oksana, a foreigner nearly 23 years younger.

Local media this week reported the couple filed for divorce in May, soon after the birth of their son. The New Straits Times on Wednesday reported the legal dissolution of the marriage was finalised at the Singapore Sharia Court earlier this month. The newspaper cited a source verifying the image of the divorce certificate circulating online was genuine.

The certificate states the divorce was undertaken through the mechanism under Muslim law known as “triple talaq”, whereby men can divorce their wives by saying the word “talaq” or “divorce” in Arabic, three times.

A triple talaq, as opposed to a single talaq, is considered the severest form of divorce under Islamic jurisprudence because the couple cannot reunite unless the woman weds another man, consummates the marriage, and then divorces him.

Separately, local broadcaster Astro Awani also reported the divorce on Monday.

But on Thursday, an Instagram account under the handle “Rihana Oksana Petra” published a video showing the couple doing a slow dance. It also featured Oksana saying she wanted to “be the last person in [Muhammad’s] life and I want to live with him until the end of my life”.

Muhammad was shown talking about his marriage and saying “patience and understanding” were most important.

In Malaysia, discussion and coverage of the private lives of royals are muted – in contrast to the attention showered on Britain’s royals – largely due to concerns about the country’s tough sedition laws.

Still, the intrigue surrounding Oksana and Muhammad has started tongues wagging. On Twitter and Facebook, users expressed surprise over the divorce.

On Tuesday, the Kelantan palace released an opaque statement pointing out that no one should refer to themselves as a consort of the Kelantan sultan without a declaration from the royal house.

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The statement asserted that the crown prince of the state is Tengku Muhammad Faiz Petra, the brother of the current sultan. It was released after a post on Oksana’s Instagram account referred to her son as the crown prince of Kelantan and “insyallah [God willing] the next Sultan of Kelantan”.

The account has amassed more than 360,000 followers since its first post on June 4.

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Oksana’s posts mostly feature pictures of her and Muhammad, alongside captions offering anecdotes about their whirlwind romance. In one of the posts, Oksana wrote she first met Muhammad in “spring 2017” in Europe.

Oksana, who won the title of Miss Moscow in 2015, last posted on July 10, which she revealed was her 27th birthday.

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This article Has Malaysian Sultan Muhammad V divorced his Russian wife Oksana Voevodina? first appeared on South China Morning Post

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