Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan, who divorced his Russian beauty queen wife, has publicly cast doubt on whether the boy that was born in May 2019 is really his.
The sultan's lawyer, Koh Tien Hua of Eversheds Harry Elias LLP, said in a statement on July 20 that has been reported by The Straits Times and CNA: "There is no objective evidence as yet as to the biological father of the child.''
"On behalf of His Royal Highness, we request his privacy be respected."
New photos of son
Even as news of the lawyer's comments made the rounds internationally, the woman who married Malaysian royalty, Rihana Oksana Veovodina, 27, uploaded two new images to Instagram on Monday, July 22.
View this post on Instagram
Saya sedang menulis dan saya tidak dapat menahan air mata dari mengalir...dan saya rasa tidak perlu untuk menahannya, kerana ia adalah tangisan kegembiraan dan kesyukuran! Saya masih tidak percaya yang saya menerima bergitu banyak mesej yang baik daripada anda semua. Daripada seluruh pelusuk dunia! Dan sudah tentu saya mahu beritahu kepada semua rakyat Malaysia: anda semua berjiwa besar, kerana menerima dan menyokong saya - seorang wanita dari negara asing dan membesar dengan budaya berbeza. Saya sangat bangga darah Malaysia mengalir dalam anak saya dan saya akan lakukan apa sahaja untuk dia membesar selayaknya dengan kasih anda semua. Dalam hidup saya, saya terpaksa menghadapi pelbagai jenis kejahatan, tipu daya dan hasad dengki. Tetapi anda meyakinkan saya bahawa masih ada kebaikan di dunia ini. Kalaulah saya berpeluang, saya mahu memeluk anda semua dengan kegembiraan . Sokongan dan dorongan anda semua amat berharga bagi saya. Mesej masuk tidak henti-henti, saya akan terus berkongsi kisah hidup saya dengan ikhlas dan jujur. Semoga Allah memberkati anda semua, kawan-kawanku! P.S. Hari ini genap 2 bulan umur Leon. Terus membesar dan bahagia si cilik duniaku.❤️
It showed her with her two-month-old son, saying that she is "proud Malaysian blood flows in his veins".
Posting the message from an apartment near Moscow where she is staying, courtesy of Muhammad V, 49, she wrote: "I am writing this post and I cannot hold back tears... and I think it's not necessary because these are tears of happiness and gratitude!"
Her post also included thanks to her supporters for kind words and encouragement.
She then wrote: "I am so proud that Malaysian Blood flows in the veins of my son and I will do everything for him to grow worthy of your love."
"In my life, I have to face to a lot of malice, slander and envy. But you convince me there is still a lot of kindness left in the world."
Did not address divorce
However, she did not mention the Sultan in her message or address the status of their relationship.
She did promise to keep sharing news of son Ismail Leon and his development.
She wrote: "Today Leon is two months old. Keep growing and be happy, my little world."
Divorce confirmed by Sultan's side
Muhammad's lawyer confirmed with the Singapore media that the pair are divorced following a traditional Islamic ceremony by three talaqs in the presence of two competent Muslim witnesses.
The divorce was listed as having occurred on June 22.
It was marked as taking place in Singapore.
It was conducted in accordance with syariah laws.
The certificate, which was apparently seen by Malaysian media, bears the Kelantan state crest and is marked as the wife's copy.
The Kelantan Syariah Court had given its permission for the divorce and it issued the divorce certificate on July 1.
Koh, the Sultan's lawyer, said Veovodina was informed by her lawyers of the divorce and a copy of the divorce certificate was given to her.
But the Russian woman told Malaysian news portal, Malaysiakini, she was unaware: "I was in Russia with my child. We were not in Singapore in June for any divorce proceedings."
Syariah Court Singapore has also confirmed it does not have records of the divorce.
The couple were married on June 7, 2018.
News of the wedding made the international rounds four months later in November.
In January 2019, the king abdicated his throne and rumours of the couple's separation swirled around.
In May, the couple's son was born.
On June 9, Veovodina put up one post that could be seen as being critical of the ex-king.
She wrote: "The man who really loves his woman will do everything for his beloved one."
"Love and taking care is the base for strong and healthy relationship."
"A good husband will always support and be nice with his wife."
"Always is interested how does she feel and takes care of her, if she is tired."
"Always 100% keeps his promises."
"Always takes responsibility for the family and doesn't put this responsibility on his wife's shoulders."
"During pregnancy he would give his wife increased attention, gifts and care."
"Relationships are based on how can people support and understand each other."
"Family is the result of the work of two people who can give love gratuitously."
No official royal word
The Kelantan palace has not made an official comment on the matter.
But it issued a statement on July 16 laying out the correct use of royal titles.
"Please be informed that no one can be called Kelantan Queen, Kelantan King, Sultanah Kelantan or Queen of Kelantan without any official announcement from Istana Kelantan," the palace said.
It did not mention Veovodina.
Veovodina had put up an Instagram post that said: “My son Ismail Leon, the Crown Prince of Kelantan, and if God Wills it, the next King of Kelantan.”