Russian prankster Vladimir “Vovan” Kuznetsov fooled Monica Babuc, Moldovan Culture minister, into believing that she was speaking to the Ukrainian minister of Culture on the day of the Eurovision Grand Final. The prankster asked if Moldova could give 12 points to Ukraine, and Monica Babuc was more than happy to oblige.
The prank was broadcast live by Russian TV station NTV.
Monica Babuc was told that the person at the other end of the line was her newly appointed Ukrainian counterpart Evgheni Nischuk, calling on behalf of Ukrainean president Petro Poroshenko. The Moldovan minister of Culture was very happy to help with the neighbour’s chances at Eurovision, even though she was not very familiar with the voting procedure — she was not even aware that there was also a jury involved — and she had not listened to Jamala’s song “1944”. Moreover, at some point she says that, if it were up to her, she would give Ukraine 24 points. She promises that she will talk to the management of Moldovan broadcaster TRM to see what could be done to award Ukraine 12 points.
However, we should note that the prank was made on the day of the Grand Final, one day after the Jury final, which means that Monica Babuc could not have influenced the jury score, which had already been submitted to the EBU. Moldovan viewers did award 12 points to Ukraine, although there is no proof that this was due to Monica Babuc’s influence. The minister stresses that she did not actually contact TRM, nevermind the jury, especially since the call was made two hours before the Grand Final.
For the record, three of the Moldovan jurors ranked Ukraine first, while the other two ranked it second. In case you were wondering, Russia was ranked third by two jurors, while the other three ranked it 4th, 9th, and 10th.
One of the Moldovan jury members is Lidia Scarlat, who wrote the lyrics to Cristina Scarlat’s entry “Wild Soul” two years ago. We asked Lidia if she was contacted by Monica Babuc and she told wiwibloggs that nobody contacted the jury and that she only found out about the prank after the day of the Jury Final, from the Russian media.
Asked about her reaction to the prank in a press conference today, Babuc denied once again that she contacted TRM and said that the best response was given by Jamala herself, who won Eurovision with a powerful song, a great voice, and a strong message. She added that “pranks are fun unless they have bad intentions behind them, in which case they become ugly.” According to her, the Georgian minister of Culture was also pranked.
Calls are being made for the Moldovan minister of Culture to step down, but Babuc said that she would not resign because she did nothing wrong.
What do you think about this prank? Should the Moldovan minister step down, even if she did not actually influence the jury? Or is the promise to influence the voting enough grounds for dismissal?