Last night around 5,000 Eurovision fans gathered inside the Hammersmith Apollo for the filming of Eurovision’s Greatest Hits — the 60th anniversary celebration show for the Eurovision Song Contest. Hosted by the BBC’s Graham Norton and SVT’s Petra Mede, the show was meant to celebrate the values of Eurovision — unity, togetherness, and peace, all conveyed through a shared love of music. The show went according to that script — until Russia’s Dima Bilan was greeted with loud boos.

Moments before Dima, the winner of Eurovision 2008, took the stage, Graham and Petra gave him a warm introduction. But the moment they mentioned “Russia” the audience erupted into booing. The booing was so loud that Graham stopped the introduction to scold the audience. He reminded them that Eurovision’s Greatest Hits is a celebration and not a competition, and suggested that they take their booing elsewhere. Graham and Petra then introduced Dima again. A much smaller percentage of the audience booed this second time. We were sipping on a gin and tonic near the bar, so did not have time to grab our iPhones to record the first (rather ugly) round of boos, but we did record the second, much quieter incident. You can watch it below.

Dima Bilan booed at Eurovision’s Greatest Hits

During last year’s Eurovision, the audience booed the Tolmachevys on live television — both during the semi-finals and the final, and people around the world saw the drama unfold as it happened. But because Eurovision’s Greatest Hits is pre-recorded, producers will no doubt edit out the first round of booing, and then adjust the sound to ensure no one hears the second round of boo-hiss.

In both instances, fans are clearly booing Russia — and more specifically its politicians — and not the artists. But the effect is the same. It must be disheartening for the acts to face a hostile crowd.

We tweeted about the incident as it happened last night, and our readers had harsh words for those who booed. The general themes they conveyed are that a) No performer should be booed for his government’s politics and b) it’s actually intolerant to boo someone simply because you view their nation’s politicians as intolerant

For instance:

 

 

 

Shane makes the good point that anyone, no matter who they are, would face similar reactions for representing Russia. He isn’t saying this is fair, just pointing out the difficulties Russian artists currently face:

Many Eurovision fans praised Dima for acting like a pro despite the drama. The Apollo Theatre is small and intimate, so he would have heard the first round of booing from behind the stage door. But he still came on and delivered stand-out performances of his Eurovision songs “Believe” and “Never Let You Go”. In my mind they both sounded better than at Eurovision.

 

What do you think of the booing? Were fans wrong to express themselves in this way? Is Eurovision an appropriate forum to send messages to foreign governments? Sound off below!

Photo: @bilanofficial on Instagram

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Scott
Guest
Scott

he didn’t deserve any booing for his country’s politics…though maybe for his dreadful rendition of his euro songs.

Alex
Guest
Alex

I am disgusted by all the eurofans wanting their rights to be recognised and doing THIS!!!!SHAME ON YOU!!

That stupid Dima Bilan fan should be dragged hard for tweeting this. Excuse me you bitch, but what do u mean by saying “eurofans want their rights to be recognized”???? Russian cunt.

Lawrence Gibb
Guest
Lawrence Gibb

I’m sure we all deplore the duplicity and intolerance of Putin and his cronies but he does not represent young modern Russians or Russia, and his days are numbered. Booing Russian performers simply reinforces his slogan that “the west” and her allies are anti Russian. I implore all fans in Vienna, don’t spoil the party with a misplaced protest. I was in Belgrade when Serbian spectators booed Olta Boka when she qualified for the final. Genuine Serb Eurovision fans were horrified and embarrassed and we all felt very uncomfortable. Please, we are better than football thugs and should show our… Read more »

LucyEAPercy
Guest

Yeah…my friend i was with started booing with a load of other guys, and i was like “its desperately unnecessary, stop it?!” it was mostly a group in the very middle of the stalls, not so much at the sides or front like we were. dont know what it was like upstairs..

Noah
Guest
Noah

@George – you may need to read some history lessons – yes, your beloved Greece was involved in Iraq’s war – that’s right – it is a WAR!

Google a little bit.

Jim
Guest
Jim

What puzzles me is Russia’s involvement in Eurovision. I absolutely agree that the contest shouldn’t be intermingled with politics but we must admit it usually will. Plenty of statements, patterns of voting and even protest songs that – though subtle – have very strong political connotations are all part of this annual crazy-fest. That Russia wants to be part of this festival, that in a sense represents the West blatantly, is somehow inconceivable to me. Russia’s more recent course would add to this amazement and makes you wonder why they would keep on fighting a losing battle, at least in… Read more »

Gavin
Guest

First well done to Dima for going for it, I’m sure it is not nice facing a hostile crowd, at the same time he took his perfomance energy and turned the hostility to cheers by the end. It was obvious that the crowd booed Russia and not Dima. I don’t have a problem with this. It’s a statement and what seemed a unanimous one. I’m not sure how I could cheer a Russian flag – however I am more than happy to show full support of Dima and his Eurovision songs. I did love however how Bobby socks recived a… Read more »

Julian
Guest
Julian

Booing comes from 2 categories of people. The intolerant / racist is one and their boos come from hate. The frustrated is another and their booing comes from fear. The second category’s booing is not as loud, it sounds more like echoing or backing vocals of the first, would not even happen if the first wouldn’t have set the tone. This mirrors the countries where far right movements increased their power. It is quite dangerous for those societies to become so hateful, to not tolerate others opinions and actions, to not understand other people perspectives. Leads to not being able… Read more »

George
Guest

@ Noah

Out of topic, but could you explain me in which war has Greece,Albania or Bulgaria involved the past 20 years(or whenever)
P.S.I doubt that many other countries you mentioned were actually involved in a war but I don’t really know the history of Iceland.

Fatima
Guest
Fatima

To all those bleating about the booing, try to watch the UK Channel 4 documentary “Hunted”. These are clips on YouTube. Russian booing is now a feature of the contest, like the tit-for-tat voting between Greece and Cyprus. Which also gets booed.

Leon
Guest
Leon

I think we should all boo UK, France, Italy Netherlands, Spain and Portugal for colonization and mistreatment of people in the 1800’s. We should obviously boo Germany. We should all boo Serbia, Bosnia and all ex yugoslav countries for their crimes against humanity in 90’s and so on….

Felix Prochain
Guest
Felix Prochain

Damn, why can’t we edit our comments? Add this option.., please? ))

Felix Prochain
Guest
Felix Prochain

It’s amazing how most people so easily prone to cheap propaganda.
Kiev authorities these fascists are exterminating their own citizens in eastern part of Ukraine, but these stupid bastards do not care about it. They blame Russia. The funny part is that those people who booed are themselves hated by the majority of earths population.

Leon
Guest
Leon

@davved – then why aren’t you booing Azerbaijan? After all, they were the ones who interrogated their own citizens for voting for Armenia in Eurovision.

Unknown
Guest
Unknown

Shall we all jump on a time machine to boo Yugoslavia?

davved
Guest
davved

Animal, one countries atrocities does not excuse another countries atrocities. russia is one of the world worst regimes, and are treated as such….

booing russia is a very natural reaction to russias midieval treatment of its people

davved
Guest
davved

daniel, those two “17 year olds” were russias alibi last year. Russia think they can act like a high school bully and people will not react.
that people boos is natural and a perfectly fine reaction to a country that does not stand for anything that ESC stands for.

booooooooooooo to russia

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

I’m glad a host actually stopped to tell the audience that what they were doing was wrong. Graham Norton is fantastic as always.

But last year, they should have really got he audience to stop. Two 17 year olds get booed down with no one to come to their side yet a grown man does? At least it was something. I have probably made no sense whatsoever.

Játvarður Russellsson
Guest
Játvarður Russellsson

I really, really can’t stand Bilan, irrespective of his country, and didn’t boo but did not clap either (a far more dignified approach, in my opinion). Unsurprisingly, his monotonous, completely forgettable medley of songs no-one this side of Belarus cared about were by far the worst on the night.
I would suggest that people instead boycott Russia’s entry into Eurovision events by simply standing in silence.

davved
Guest
davved

D, just because you have enjoyed your trip to russia doesnt mean that it excuses russias blatant disrespect for human rights. period

davved
Guest
davved

he represents the evil of europe…russia.. so who is surprised.

D
Guest
D

Russophobia is such a disgusting thing. I’ve been to Russia many times and I’ve enjoyed every trip I’ve made to the country.

Mar
Guest
Mar

The “civilized” european public strikes again. Sigh.
I luv u Dima <3

blondboybc
Guest
blondboybc

Though I thoroughly concur that booing Dima was rather unwarranted on the night, anyone who thinks they can completely separate politics from the ESC are being unrealistic. Whenever a bunch of countries are involved in a competition, politics is inevitably involved (i.e. national self-interest, nationalism, etc). The Olympics are a prime example. Yes, in an ideal world there would be no politics in these contests, but that is not the reality, people.

Noah
Guest
Noah

I am actually impressed why people don’t boo when these countries perform:

– Israel
– United Kingdom
– France
– Spain
– Germany
– Italy
– Norway
– Hungary
– Portugal
– Iceland
– Australia
– Romania
– Estonia
– Bulgaria
– Greece
– Macedonia
– Albania
– Denmark
– Czech Republic
– Azerbaijan
– Latvia
– Poland
– Armenia
– Georgia

& other European countries involved into wars happened (or still happening) these past 20 years.

Hypocrites. All of you.

Racal
Guest
Racal

@Leon: “The reality is that westerners just don’t like Russia (period)”… This is a pretty hateful and wrong statement, and it’s that kind of easy shortcuts that create tensions between countries (even in a light and entertaining show like Eurovision). The only reason Russia was booed before 2014 is because they exchange their 12 points with Belarus, just like Greece/Cyprus and Romania/Moldova are booed every year, for the exact same reason… “And you need to remember, when the votes are being cast, countries are not giving points specifically to Russia, they are giving points to the singers”: wrong, people are… Read more »

ct
Guest
ct

Really? Where is the booing before they sang?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCNN1JAgWqk

Leon
Guest
Leon

@ct – yes they were. Tolmachevy sisters were absolutely booed before they started singing. It was not as bad as when they were getting the 12 points, but they were booed. And you need to remember, when the votes are being cast, countries are not giving points specifically to Russia, they are giving points to the singers. So, no matter how you look at it, it’s the artists and the acts that suffer. Also, why would Russia get sanctions for Ukraine’s withdrawal? Ukraine withdrew because they didn’t have the funds to participate. If EBU wanted to be so generous, they… Read more »

ct
Guest
ct

Nobody booed the Tolmachevy sisters last year either before, during or after their performance. Russia (not the two girls) was booed every time it was mentioned during the anouncement of the results. There is a difference there. I agree however that all this is very rude and puerile (no matter how much we may disagree with their leaders, Russia deserves as much respect as any other country) and steps need to be taken by organisers in Vienna for this phenomenon to stop. Since contest organisers have decided not to impose formal sanctions against Russia for its role in Ukraine’s decision… Read more »

Leon
Guest
Leon

Honestly, this is absolutely unacceptable. Anyone who tries to justify it in any way is just as bad as the people there. The reality is that westerners just don’t like Russia (period). Russian entries have been booed in 2007, 2010 and 2011 way before the Crimean incident. It’s just that western Europeans need a reason to boo Russia which is pathetic because when Russia hosted one of the best eurovision song contests, certainly the best one until 2009, no country and no entry was booed. Just shows how intolerant and arrogant some western Europeans are and then they’re pointing fingers… Read more »

elina
Guest
elina

firstly he did an awesome job last night!! he was a truly Professional and he nailed his medley!his vocals were among the best.. secondly as already many said although he is straight he has signed along with the whole Russian music Industry the letter against the anti gay Law and he has supported the fact that everyone has his own preferences.. thirdly for God’s sake he isn;t a politician so if some want to protest against Putin go to Russia and do it..when you boo artists just because of their country you become like their leaders: RACISTS.

beccaboo1212
Guest

Worst audience EVER 🙁

Darren
Guest
Darren

I understand why Russia is being booed but its completely unacceptable behavior from an apparently “free” and “peace loving” society. Regardless of how a country is run, it is the laws of that country and must be obeyed. Whatever happened to live and let live? The homophobia law in Russia is ridiculous and dont even get me started on their foreign policy *ahem* Ukraine…but thats just the way business is run in Russia…everyone is different. There would have been a complete uproar if Conchita was booed last year…just saying. Practice what you preach guys., “Building Bridges”? Or creating an even… Read more »

Alice
Guest
Alice

I understand why would they do it, but has anybody in the audience even looked up what Dima has done? He was one of the few Russian artists who signed a letter that pretty much said that what Putin was doing to gay people in Russia was wrong. Dima’s not an idiot.

day one
Guest
day one

They might just be boing because he beat Ani Lorak and we still can’t forgive him for beating the shady lady herself 🙁

V
Guest
V

Racal, look at televoting points.

Genevieve
Guest
Genevieve

@yst31 Do you even know who are Dima’s parents? His father is an engineer. Dima was born in a small village!

Eugene ESC UK
Guest
Eugene ESC UK

Racal – Thanks for that, yes it is quite revealing indeed, but I think you misunderstood what I said. I said “Russia despite protests last year still managed 7th?” In other words, even with the none vote, Russia STILL did well, but at least the protest was registered. Better than booing eh?

Deniz@TurkNL
Guest

Sigh… Why do people have to be such dramaqueens about the whole Russia-thing. They should learn to appreciate the participation of the country and their way of showing music. I would hate to see Polina booed in May.

Racal
Guest
Racal

@Eugene ESC UK: Russia managed to place 7th last year, but if you look at the points they received, it only came from Eastern Europe/former Soviet countries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia_in_the_Eurovision_Song_Contest_2014#Points_awarded_to_Russia

With the exception of Greece, no Western European countries gave them points. So I think your “no vote” advice was already being followed last year, and will probably be this year too… Of course it’s a shame for the artist, but if you sing under the banner of a country, you should expect viewers/voters to assimilate you with that country (be it in a good or bad way).

Robert
Guest
Robert

The world is full of stupid people. I dispise Israel’s war policy but never in a million years has it crossed my mind to boo an artist from Israel. Stupid stupid

Antranig Shokayan
Editor

Hearing the Tolmachevy Sisters booed was not fun, and neither is this. Enjoy the music indeed. <3

And I hope Polina doesn't get this sort of treatment come May, because she has an absolutely beautiful song <3

fikri
Guest
fikri

poor dima.

yst31
Guest
yst31

Actually, most of the russian artists are sons/daughter or parents of a millionaire, oligarch or a politician, so I kinda understand it.

manne
Guest

Jag tror inte att det bara för Rysslands lag om HBTQ. Tror att detta även gäller det som dom gör mot Ukraina också. Tycker inte att dom ska vara med i ESC, förrän dom sluter fred mot Ukraina, och tar bort HBTQ lagen.

Eugene ESC UK
Guest
Eugene ESC UK

Firstly the 60th Anniversary was not the place. If you want to boo Russia’s Eurovision song or the rest of it that is an individual’s choice, but is it really the artist that should be booed? It’s not their fault, they are not responsible. I would think silence would be a better option or just NOT voting. That affected Azerbaijan last year, but Russia despite protests last year still managed 7th? This year they have a better song. Booing the artist is not a good idea.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Yeah the booing is really rude and embarrassing for all involved. But do people seriously not understand how things works? I hate especially that first tweet. Russian politicians actively seek out minorities and make sure their lives are a living hell. In what twisted world does someone have to live in where booing someone is on the same level as that? Get real.

Fatima
Guest
Fatima

We shouldn’t be surprised or outraged. I’m sure it will happen again in Vienna and anywhere else a Russian act takes to a Eurovision stage. It’s not a political act, it’s an understandable reaction.

Donna
Guest
Donna

I hope they do know that Dima Bilan, along with Philip Kirkorov (Russia 1995) both don’t agree with every single thing that the Russian government does. They even openly opposed that Anti-Homosexual Propaganda bill in St. Petersburg that eventually turned into a law and paved the way for the same law to be implemented across Russia. Dima could have been in prison or dead by now for that. They should be grateful that he’s still alive, free and happy to perform for them even if his country’s government strongly denounces the Eurovision. Lastly, Dima is one of the only few… Read more »

Saule Riet
Guest
Saule Riet

Does anyone deserved to be booed? If this kind of discrimination & hate speech continue, i will stop watchig Eurovision forever!

In the end of the day Eurovision is a SONG contest, not a POLITIC contest. People forget that fact!
I feel sorry for Polina! :(((((

This kinds of stupid things just prove what non Eurovision fans think, that Eurovision is parade of kitch and bad songs.

BRING BACK THE GLORY OF EUROVISION!!!

STOP WITH THIS STUPID THINGS!!