News / Europe

Austrian Drag Act Fuels Tensions Between Russia, Europe

Austrian Drag Act Fuels Tensions Between Russia, Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
May 14, 2014 1:19 AM
The outcome of Sunday's Eurovision Song Contest is causing a backlash in Russia and escalating tensions with Europe, which were already high over the crisis in Ukraine. The annual song contest is watched by an estimated 180 million people across 45 countries. This year's winner, from Austria, is provoking strong reactions. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Henry Ridgwell
The outcome of Sunday's Eurovision Song Contest is causing a backlash in Russia and escalating tensions with Europe that were already high over the crisis in Ukraine.  The annual song contest is watched by an estimated 180 million people across 45 countries and this year's winner, from Austria, has provoked strong reactions.  

'Rise Like A Phoenix’ by singer Conchita Wurst - a performance that won Austria the Eurovision Song Contest crown Sunday, after it received more votes than the 25 other finalists.
 
It’s the performer’s appearance that got the headlines. Conchita is a man dressed as a woman with long hair and a full beard.

Wurst called it a victory for European values.
 
"It was a victory not just for me, but also for those people who believe in a future that functions without discrimination and which is based on tolerance and respect," said Wurst.
 
Those words were widely seen as a swipe at Russia. Last year, the Russian government introduced laws against what it called ‘homosexual propaganda’.
 
In Moscow, there was widespread incredulity at Conchita Wurst’s Eurovision victory.
 
"The result was 'unbelievably awful.' It shows how much the cult of homosexuality is flourishing in Europe. This was just a horrifying event and God forbid that it comes here," said Russian student Alexander Sergeyev.
 
Russia came in seventh in the competition but its performers were booed by large sections of the crowd. The Russian judges awarded all their votes to former Soviet states.
 
In Stockholm, Eurovision partygoers like Ras Andrea praised the judges and the winning act.

“They did a great representation of their country, and obviously as a political stance making their song and the singer a very key figure in the political climate that we have today in Europe. So definitely yes, the right song did win," said Andrea.
 
That political climate has become more hostile.  Russia's takeover of Crimea from Ukraine in March has been strongly condemned by Europe and the West, which also blame Moscow for the current unrest in eastern Ukraine.  The Kremlin denies involvement.

When Russian conductor Valery Gergiev - a high profile supporter of President Putin’s actions in Ukraine - staged a concert in London Sunday, around 30 anti-Putin protestors staged a short demonstration as Gergiev took to the stage.  Among them was human rights activist Peter Tatchell.

“We thought it was very important to challenge Valery Gergiev over his support for President Putin; his endorsement of Russia’s anti-gay law; and his approval of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.  For him to be able to perform unchallenged would have been very wrong," said Tatchell.
 
Although it appears Russia is facing the beginnings of a cultural backlash in Europe, there was one surprising result: both Russia and Ukraine voted for each other in the Eurovision song contest.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: evgeny from: Ukraine
May 15, 2014 5:44 AM
Of course Conchita is awful. I don't like Eurovision. It is far from real music and culture.
It's interesting that a lot of russian pop-singers are homosexuals or use this image for their performances too.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs