Saturday, August 22, 2009

Government Questions Eurovision Voters

And you thought there were controversies with the voting on American Idol...

News last week out of Azerbaijan is that officers from their national security ministry have questioned several dozen Azeris over their votes in the recent Eurovision song contest. In case you don't know, Eurovision is a pan-European (and Israel) song competition where each nation sends an act though a series of competitions that are voted on by viewers across the continent all to select the Eurovision champion. The winning act's home country then has the honor of hosting the following year's final.

The Azerbaijan officials though are questioning several dozen of their countrymen for apparently voting not for the Azeri act, but instead for the entry from neighboring Armenia instead. After the Soviet Union dissolved Azerbaijan and Armenia fought a war in the early 1990s over the ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is fully within Azerbaijan. More than a decade later, the two nations still have not come to a deal over Nagorno-Karabakh, a very tense and fragile peace remains.

So relations between the two nations aren't great, but investigating people over their Eurovision votes? Apparently the folks in Azerbaijan were serious about this - one official told the BBC that the wayward Eurovision enthusiasts were merely 'invited to explain' their votes, but some of those interrogated said that the questioning was more serious than that, including allegations that they "weren't patriotic."

And, just to make things more complex, some of those questioned said that the Armenian entry sounded "more Azeri" anyway, and that Azerbaijan's entry, a duet, included a singer who wasn't even Azeri, one person even said they voted against Azerbaijan in protest.
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