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

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

update Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

After Nearly a Century, Voodoo Opera Rises Again

Opera centers on character named Lolo, a Louisiana plantation worker and Voodoo priestess 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.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs