Russia and two of its former Soviet Union members, Belarus and Kazakhstan, have turned their Eurovision voting bloc into a lucrative Eurasian trade alliance. Formally created today in the Kazakh capital of Astana after two decades of talks between the nations, the Eurasian Economic Union is a trading bloc of 170 million people designed to rival the European Union and the United States.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the three countries would “gradually align” their currency and monetary policies, reports Bloomberg’s Ilya Arkhipov and Nariman Gizitdinov; he had previously pushed for Ukrainian membership of the union, but they've since dropped out. While three countries don't make much of a bloc right now, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia are also seeking to join by the end of 2014.
The new trade alliance is strikingly similar to the well-established voting bloc in the annual Eurovision Song Contest that includes Russia and her former satellite states. As William Adams, founder of Eurovision news site WiWi Bloggs, pointed out, “Everyone pays allegiance and homage to the mother Russia still. Russia could show up without a song and they could still make the final.” Kyrgyzstan doesn't take part in Eurovision, and Kazakhstan has repeatedly been denied entry because it’s not part of the European Broadcasting Union, the organization that runs Eurovision, though they’re currently in negotiations to join.