It’s Ukraine vs Russia part two – but this time the battleground is pop. The first shots have been fired in a bitter Eurovision Song Contest battle after the two warring nations qualified for Saturday’s final.
Geopolitical strife has traditionally been played out during Eurovision and Copenhagen 2014 will have a particular edge as Ukraine and Russia seek to wring the maximum propaganda advantage from their entries.
Russia sought to portray a “softer” image by selecting the Tolmachevy twins, innocent-looking 17-year-olds, to perform its entry, "Shine".
However the twins, already junior Eurovision winners, were booed by the 10,000-strong Danish audience when they performed at Tuesday night's semi-final.
Some detect the hand of Putin behind "Shine"’s lyrics. Although the song purports to tell “all the world to show some love” it also contained verses which foreshadow the Ukraine incursion: “Living on the edge / closer to the crime / cross the line a step at a time”.
The booing may not have been entirely due to Russia’s aggressive actions in the Ukraine but a response to the country’s anti-gay legislation.
Members of the audience waved rainbow flags behind the twins and the backlash against the nation’s homophobic laws is likely to cost Russia public votes on Saturday.
Eurovision 2014 contestants
Eurovision 2014 contestants
1/37 Conchita Wurst for Austria
Tom Neuwirth has been performing as his alter ego Conchita since 2011. For this year's contest he will be singing 'Rise Like a Phoenix'. Tom's motto is: 'Be the best version of yourself rather than a bad copy of someone else'. Conchita is a symbol for tolerance and artistic freedom around the world.
2/37 Molly Smitten-Downes for the UK
Molly is an up and coming singer-songwriter who will represent the UK in Copenhagen with her own song 'Children of the Universe'. The track includes a strong drum beat and lyrics designed to promote 'love and unity'.
3/37 Vilija Matačiūnaitė for Lithuania
Vilija's singing talent was first spotted by her kindergarten teacher. She began a professional singing career aged 18 and will perform 'Attention' at Eurovision 2014.
Darius Gražys Vilija Matačiūnauitė "Attention"
4/37 Tinkara Kovač for Slovenia
Tinkara will be performing 'Round and Round' for Eurovision 2014. She is a singer, flautist and lyricist who has recorded two albums. Past collaborations include Robert Plant and Ian Anderson.
Matej Mljač/ Tinkara Kovač
5/37 The Tolmachevy Twins for Russia
These girls won Junior Eurovision in 2006 aged nine. Anastasiya and Maria are all grown-up now and ready to perform 'Shine' in Copenhagen.
6/37 Hersi for Albania
Hersi Matmuja is just 24 but has already participated in her country's Eurovision selection festival five times. She has been pursuing a career in both modern and classical music. Her song for the contest is 'One Night's Anger'.
7/37 Tijana for FYR Macedonia
Tijana Dapcevic is well-known as a singer, cellist and actress. Her Eurovision song choice 'To the Sky' fits with her life motto: 'The sky's the limit - nothing is impossible'. Her sister Tamara will perform as her backing vocalist in Copenhagen.
8/37 Mei Finegold for Israel
Mei will be performing 'Same Heart' at Eurovision 2014. She is renowned as one of the most unique singers on the Israeli music scene.
9/37 Freaky Fortune feat. RiskyKidd for Greece
Nikolas Raptakis and Theofilos Pouzbouris are both 23. They will be performing 'Rise Up' for the competition after making their breakthrough online. Freaky Fortune's cover of Katy Perry's 'Part of Me' was championed by blogger Perez Hilton.
Maria Delakou / Freaky Fortune feat. RiskyKidd
10/37 András Kállay-Saunders for Hungary
András is a long-time lover of Eurovision. He will be singing 'Running' for the 2014 contest - a song with a strong link to his one life. 'I wrote this song about a childhood friend of mine who was victim to child abuse. I would like to raise awareness to this topic.'
11/37 Donatan & Cleo for Poland
This duo's song 'My Slowianie' was a hit in Poland and the video has been viewed more than 40 million times on YouTube. They will be singing the song - translated to mean 'We Are Slavic' - in Copenhagen.
Respective Broadcasters/EBU Donatan & Cleo
12/37 Suzy for Portugal
Suzy performed on-stage for the first time aged 5. She has performed at various musical events and will be singing 'Quero Ser Tua' for this year's contest.
Cátia Castel-Branco / RTP
13/37 The Shin & Mariko for Georgia
Germany-based band The Shin became famous for interweaving traditional Georgian music with more mainstream influences. 'Three Minutes to Earth' reflects this style. 'It describes the last three minutes of a long walk back to Earth.'
Jiji Rejini / GPB
14/37 Firelight for Malta
Firelight is a fairly new Maltese country folk-pop band. They only formed last June! Nevertheless they will be performing 'Coming Home' for Malta at this year's Eurovision.
Mario Micallef / PBS
15/37 Softengine for Finland
Eurovision 2014 will be the first big performance for Softengine. The group arrived at their current line-up last summer and will be performing 'Something Better' in Copenhagen.
Marek Sabogal / YLE
16/37 Basim for Denmark
Basim is a household name in his native Denmark. He came fourth in the first season of The X Factor in 2008 and will now perform 'Cliche Love Song' at Eurovision.
Jens Rosenfeldt / DR
17/37 Pollapönk for Iceland
Pollapönk were founded in 2006 and are set to perform 'No Prejudice' in Copenhagen. The song is about a young person with a speech impediment who is afraid of being bullied.
Jonatan Gretarsson / RUV
18/37 Can-linn feat. Kasey Smith for Ireland
Kasey Smith from Dublin found fame with girlband Wonderland in 2010. The group were tutored by Louis Walsh and Kian Egan. Since then the 23-year-old has been in Nashville focusing on her solo career. She will perform 'Heartbeat' at Eurovision.
Philip McMillan / RTE
19/37 Tanja for Estonia
Tanja moved to Estonia from Russia aged two months. She will perform her song 'Amazing' in Copenhagen.
20/37 Emma for Italy
Emma describes music as 'like drinking, sleeping, eating'. She used to follow her father's band gigs and will sing 'La Mia Citta' in Copenhagen.
Flavio & Frank
21/37 Twin Twin for France
Twin Twin (not Tin Tin!) won't be letting anyone forget their performance in a hurry. The trio are known for their extravagant style and bouncy stage presence. Twin Twin will sing 'Moustache' at Eurovision.
22/37 Sergej for Montenegro
Sergej will be singing 'Moj Svijet' in Copenhagen. He began his musical career aged 10 when he won second place in the child festival Our Joy.
Kristina Cetkovic / RTCG
23/37 Ruth Lorenzo for Spain
Ruth was destined to be a singer after screaming so loudly when she was born. She started singing opera aged six and will be performing 'Dancing In The Rain' at Eurovision 2014.
Josep Echaburu - RTVE
24/37 Elaiza for Germany
This female trio gained a wildcard for the German national final out of more than 2,200 acts who applied via YouTube. They will perform their own song 'Is It Right?' after beating seven of the German music scene's most famous acts.
25/37 Sebalter for Switzerland
Sebalter will be fulfilling a life-long dream when he performs at Eurovision. His trademark is the fiddle which he began playing aged six. Sebalter will perform 'Hunter of Stars' in Copenhagen.
26/37 The Common Linnets for The Netherlands
Ilse DeLange and Waylon make up this act who will be performing 'Calm After The Storm' at Eurovision 2014. The pair recently travelling to Nashville to prepare for their appearance.
Paul Bellaart / The Common Linnets
27/37 Sanna Nielsen for Sweden
Sanna, 29, broke onto the music scene aged 11 and is now one of her country's most famous pop artists. She will be singing 'Undo' for this year's competition.
28/37 Paula Seling and OVI for Romania
Seling is a multi-talented entertainer who has won awards as a classical piano player. She will be performing 'Miracle' with OVI in Copenhagen this May.
29/37 Dilara Kazimova for Azerbaijan
Dilara is influenced by traditional Azeri folk music as well as rock legends like Freddie Mercury. She will perform 'Start A Fire' for Eurovision 2014.
30/37 ARAM MP3 for Armenia
Aram will be representing Armenia in Copenhagen this May with 'Not Alone'. His shows are unpredictable and unique so we're in for a treat.
Arnos Martirosyan/ARAM MP3
31/37 Mariya Yaremchuk for Ukraine
Mariya hopes to take home the glory for Ukraine with her own intense track 'Tick Tock'. The plan is for her performance to be 'soulful and simple'.
32/37 Teo for Belarus
Teo, real name Yuriy Vaschuk has experience in singing, composing and arranging. A born entertainer, he will perform 'Cheesecake' in Copenhagen which may or may not be cheesy (we suspect cheesy).
33/37 Cristina Scarlat for Moldova
Cristina was born into a family with traditional music roots and has always been surrounded by music. She graduated from the Moldovan music conservatory in 2006 and will be singing ‘Wild Soul’ in Copenhagen.
Vlad Vlas/Cristina Scarlat
34/37 Carl Espen for Norway
Carl was born in Bergen in 1982 and will represent Norway at the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest with the song 'Silent Storm'.
35/37 Axel Hirsoux for Belgium
Trumpet-playing Axel from Charleroi will take to the stage in Copenhagen this May to perform 'Mother' for Belgium.
36/37 Valentina Monetta for San Marino
Valentina was born in 1975 as the second of two children. She describes her music taste as eclectiv and will sing 'Maybe (Forse)' at Eurovision 2014.
Augusto Betiula/Valentina Monetta
37/37 Aarzemnieki for Latvia
Aarzemnieki (or Foreigners) began as a YouTube sensation in 2013 after Joran Steinhauer wrote a farewell song to the Lat currency. Now the group will sing 'Cake To Bake' in Copenhagen.
Linda Rutule/ Aarzemnieki (Latvia)
Ukraine’s contender Mariya Yaremchuck, who also qualified for the final, was jeered by a small pro-Russian faction in the audience.
Her song, "Tick-Tock", contained the line - “I believe that I’ve loved you since the first time that I saw you” – which could be interpreted as a reference to the day Ukraine received Crimea as a “gift” from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.
Yaremchuck was accompanied by a dancer running in a giant hamster wheel, possibly an oblique comment on the plight of ordinary Ukrainians.
Whilst the Tolmachevy twins refused to discuss the current stand-off, Yaremchuck, 21, a supporter of Ukraine’s Party of Regions, the previous ruling political force under ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, seized her moment.
"Everyone in Ukraine was shocked,” she said of the deteriorating situation at a press conference. “It really affects me because I will try my best to prove that Ukrainians are a strong nation and conflicts end, but music lives. I hope Ukraine will start a new life and a new page.”
Ukraine is expected to benefit from a Europe-wide sympathy vote – the final tally is split between the public’s choice and national juries. But countries cannot vote for themselves and organisers moved to quash concerns that viewers in Crimea, the Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia, would now be counted as Russians.
“In Crimea, there is a Ukrainian telecom network in service. This means that the votes from the area are part of the Ukrainian televote at this year's Eurovision Song Contest,” a spokesman said.
In 2005, after Ukraine’s pro-democracy Orange Revolution, Russian voters awarded its neighbour just two points despite having lavished it with a maximum 12 just a year earlier.
Amid the political manoeuvrings, Britain’s entry, Molly Smitten-Downes, sought to whip up support for her “can’t we all just get along” anthem, "Children of the Universe".
Smitten-Downes, 27, was installed as third favourite, after wearing a plunging sci-fi themed dress, described as “Raquel Welch’s One Million Years BC meets C-3PO” at a rehearsal for the final. Despite dismal recent performances, the UK remains one of the “big five” nations guaranteed a place in the final by virtue of their financial support for the European Broadcasting Union.
The Ukraine-Russia grudge match may prove a sideshow, according to the bookies. Armenia’s entry, Aram MP3, is the favourite for "Not Alone", a dubstep piano ballad. Other hotly-tipped songs by Sweden, Hungary and Azerbaijan also qualified ahead of the second semi-final on Thursday night.