Tensions are rising in Moscow because of Eurovision. Today Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov to discuss why Azerbaijan did not give Russia any points during the Grand Final, an issue that has raised a lot of eyebrows, including those of the Azerbaijani president.
It is an unprecedented step that shows how serious Russia takes the pan-European contest. Azerbaijan’s foreign minister informed the Russian minister that, as we previously reported, the country’s mobile phone operators confirmed that Dina Garipova’s song “What If” came second in the televote, which, combined with a good jury vote, would have given her 10 points. However, when the announcement was made on live television on Saturday night, Russia received zero points from Azerbaijan.
Lavrov called this incident “outrageous” and even went on to say that the points were “stolen” from Garipova. Although the 10 points would not have made any difference (Russia finished fifth on Saturday, 17 points behind Norway), Moscow wants this issue investigated by the European Broadcasting Union. However, the EBU has stated that the combination of televotes and jury votes, each bearing a 50% influence on the outcome, did not result in a top 10 position for Russia in the overall result from Azerbaijan.
If the Azerbaijani jury had ranked Russia very low, as obviously was the case in Italy with the Romanian contestant, then the nul points would be a reasonable, although dubious explanation. However, the chairman of the Azerbaijani national television was quoted by Azeri News Agency 1News.az saying that Russia got top marks from the jury. He even pointed the finger at Germany, where Digame, the company in charge with counting the votes, is based.
Tensions are also rising in Minsk, although president of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko is appealing to calm. Belarusian Telegraph Agency reports that the president claims that Russia could not have gotten zero points to Belarus, who, in turn, gave 8 points to Russia. In a meeting with Belarussian representative Alyona Lanskaya, he consoled her publicly:
I know what you feel, Alyona, about the way Russia voted. You can take these 12 points, not less. This demonstrates how politicized and even falsified this contest is. Those who read news have probably learnt about a scandal around the falsification of voting results that broke out in one of the participating states.
Addressing a group of music students at the same meeting, Alexander Lukashenko tried to calm the waters:
You should take it easy, just listen and enjoy the music and performers. I do not want to cast a doubt and question the winning entry. Indeed, the girl from Denmark was very good and her performance was great. However, our girl was just as good. Therefore, I suggest we should stay cool and calm regarding such voting results.
So, more and more countries are unhappy with the new voting rules and irregularities. Nevertheless, we have a feeling that we are barely scratching the surface of what seems to be the most contended Eurovision in recent memory. We’ll keep you posted.
Bogdan Honciuc is a Romania-based correspondent for WiwiBloggs.com.
Follow him on Twitter at @stingoo.
Photos credit: Eurovision.tv