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
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits