It has become known for discovering new talent, but also for its eccentric side. This year, though, the Eurovision song contest, hosted by Russia, is attracting controversy.
For example, Saturday’s event is going ahead without Georgia. It pulled out, complaining that the organisers wanted its song changed because the words were seen as a swipe at President Putin.
Russian nationalists have also complained because the singer representing Russia comes from Ukraine,
another country with difficult relations with Moscow.
Another controversy is over the fact that Russia’s gay pride event coincides with Eurovision.
Moscow offcicials have banned a gay parade on Saturday, claiming it will – in their words – “destroy morals” in the capital.
The Dutch entry threatened to boycott the contest over the ban. A De Toppers singer, Gordon, said: “We want to be positive. ‘Shine’ is the title of our song. We want to bring that to Europe and also to Russia. The song has a message which is meant especially for Russia. It is: people, let’s respect each other, no matter what religion, race, origin or sexual orientation.”
There are fears the gay pride will end in violence, as has happened in previous years, especially if people try to go ahead with a parade.
A Jewish-Arab duo at the contest has also caused a stir. A Jewish singer known as Noa will perform with Mira Awad, a Christian Arab Israeli. This is Israel’s first mixed ethnic entry in decades.