Conchita Wurst’s triumph at Eurovision this year has prompted Russian officials to call for the country's exit of the contest and start their own "straight," family-friendly version. In an unsurprising move, Communist Party deputy Valery Rashkin said he would push for a new singing contest that focuses more on family values, reports The Local Austria. The proposed “Voice of Eurasia” contest would include entries from former Soviet Union satellite countries, but considering those nations already form an unofficial Eurovision voting bloc, it would likely be rather predictable.
Russia has taken Wurst’s victory particularly hard. "The last Eurovision contest's results exhausted our patience," Rashkin told the Interfax news agency. "We must leave this competition. We cannot tolerate this endless madness." A video of Russian MP Oleg Nilov shows him singing a Russian folk song in protest of Conchita Wurst winning. Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky said this year's Eurovision winner heralded the “end of Europe” and said, “there are no more men or women in Europe, just it.”
Belarus, who gave Russia twelve points in the contest last week, were quick to chomp at the bit. Advisers to President Aleksander Lukashenko, said that Wurst’s victory “symbolizes the complete collapse of the European Union’s moral values.”
Dr. Eurovision, otherwise known as Paul Jordan, says that Russia’s backlash is a combination of embarrassment and frustration over losing. Add in the repeated boos from the audience at Russia’s act, the Tolmachevy Sisters, and Conchita Wurst's 290-point victory, which “flies in the face of everything Russian law stands for.” Presenters of the past two competitions have made very obvious references to the competition’s gay fans — although Pilou Asbæk, one of this year’s presenters, said that his request to wear rainbows colors was denied because it was “too political” — but Jordan said that although Eurovision is portrayed as a gay event, it isn’t, and gay fans don’t have ownership of it.
If Russia does decide to breakaway from Eurovision, which gets an estimated 125 million viewers evert year, it wouldn’t be the first country with a regional contest, said William Lee Adams, founder of Wiwi Bloggs, an independent Eurovision news site. Turkey setup Turkvision, a rival Eurovision contest, which included Belarus, Kyrgystan and Kosovo; Azerbaijan won in 2013, the competition's first year. There’s also the New Wave contest for “young pop singers” that has seen entries from Georgia, Cuba and Latvia.
“I don’t think Russia would win every time, but [a new contest] would struggle to gain viewers,” Adams said. “Having another regional competition is not exciting.”
Adams believes that inflammatory conservative Russian politicians are just trying to increase their popularity and aren't in touch with the Russian public. “Clearly there is an appetite for the competition the politicians are railing against,” he said. The voting Russian public placed Conchita Wurst third , but the Russian jury placed her eleventh, which reflects a generational gap between young Eurovision voters and an older national jury.
Adams also points out that Russia has produced some of the gayest acts ever, including t.A.T.u. (“the world’s most famous faux-lesbians”), who represented Russia in the 2003 Eurovision, and Ukrainian drag queen Verka Serduchka (enjoy this video).
While the "Voice of Eurasia" is just a conservative Russian pipe dream right now, this Saturday marks International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia at the United Nations. The U.N. says, “We condemn acts of retaliation, intimidation, or harassment in any sphere (whether public or private) based on a person’s manifestation or expression of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.