Moscow hopes to keep Eurovision on eastern front

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The Independent Online

Russia is desperate to win the Eurovision Song Contest this year. But you'd never know it, the way Tatu have been acting up in Latvia this week.

The pseudo-lesbian prima donnas from Moscow, Lena Katina, 17, and Julia Volkova, 18, who are representing Russia at this year's event, have had Riga in uproar.

After refusing to sing in rehearsals, Russia's biggest pop act have sulked their way through press conferences, playing with each other's hair and refusing to answer questions. When they arrived, they declared that they hated everything. The press has been following their every move since.

No one knows what the two are planning to do in their performance at tonight's contest. After the pair announced that they planned to spend their spare time having "sex in a very small bed", Riga's rumour mills went into overdrive. Would they strip out of their costumes? Would they kiss? Might they even not turn up?

Bookmakers William Hill have offered odds of 4-1 that the pair will be disqualified from the contest. The word here is that the European Broadcasting Union - which puts on the event with the host country every year - is not impressed. Organisers have said they could broadcast a recorded version of Tatu's performance if the two get up to onstage antics that are not deemed wholesome family fun.

However, ordinary Latvians are bored stiff by Tatu's antics and by the Eurovision, which the country shelled out 4.5m lats (£5m) to host. Over the past few years the contest has been moving deeper into the countries that will soon become members of the expanded European Union, but the most Eurosceptic of the Baltic states is underwhelmed.

"We don't really care about it," says one Latvian. "It's great for raising our profile and for tourism, but that's about it." Another says: "We're more interested in ice hockey."

When Latvians go to the polls later this year to vote in a referendum on EU entry, they're likely to say "yes". But it's doubtful they'd ever be bothered to host the Eurovision again.