Eurovision 2014: Ukraine and Russia in music propaganda battle ahead of final

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.


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.

Read more: Why is Eurovision voting so political?
Past Eurovision winners from Abba to Bucks Fizz
Eurovision semi-final and final explained
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West found himself at the centre of a critical storm over the weekend after he apparently claimed to be “the next Mandela” during a radio interview
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig and Rory Kinnear film Spectre in London
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
    Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

    Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

    Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
    New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

    Dinner through the decades

    A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
    Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

    Philippa Perry interview

    The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

    Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

    Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?