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No, really: Russia says somebody stole its Eurovision votes

A minister says Russia came second in Azerbaijan’s public vote – and wonders why his country awarded Russia nul points.

Russia's Dina Garipova:
Russia's Dina Garipova: "I should have gotten THIS many votes!"
Image: AP

THE RUSSIAN MINISTER who usually focuses on Syria and on US-Russian relations has turned his attention toward a subject close to Russian hearts — alleged vote theft at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has met with his counterpart from Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic, as the latter state began an investigation into why the country’s announced votes did not give any points to Russia.

Azerbaijan’s foreign minister, Elmar Mammadyarov, said the country’s mobile phone operators reported that Russia’s Dina Garipova came second in the local vote, which would have given her 10 points.

However, when Azerbaijan’s points were awarded in the live broadcast, there were no points for Russia.

Lavrov called it an “outrageous incident” and said the points were stolen from Garipova.

Garipova finished fifth overall on Saturday, 17 points behind fourth-placed Norway, so 10 points would not have made a difference in the ranking – but Russians have been passionate about the pan-European song contest for more than a decade. Dima Bilan’s win in 2008 was treated as a major national triumph.

Azerbaijani television earlier lamented the “loss of the votes” but could not explain what actually happened.

Mammadyarov said officials were investigating the incident and are now seeking access to the results of the vote. It was unclear where any mistake or vote manipulation might have occurred.

Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Moscow, a renowned Soviet-era crooner Polad Bulbuloglu, told Russian television that it’s “impossible” that Garipova did not score any points in his country. In its own voting, Russia gave the Azerbaijani entry the maximum 12 points.

Jarmo Siim, a spokesman for the European Broadcasting Union which holds the competition, said the final tally for each country is a 50-50 combination of the telephone votes and the votes of a national jury.

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A country that received a good result in the telephone vote could still be left with no points in the overall tally if the jury gave its highest points to other contestants, he said.

Siim said the EBU contracted the German company Digame to register the votes. He said Digame has partnerships with several telecommunication operators in all countries, but that those companies are only responsible for the technical part of registering the calls. All the votes then get checked and verified by an auditing firm.

The EBU said it has no plans to start any investigation since it has no indications that anything went wrong.

It promised to reveal how the public and the jury voted in a couple of weeks, but Siim said the EBU will only provide an overall European figure. Local broadcasters may choose to reveal the vote split for their countries, he said.

Read: Bookie to refund bets on Ryan Dolan: ‘He didn’t deserve to finish last’

As it happened: Eurovision 2013: Gay marriage, hipsters, Denmark and nil points

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Associated Press

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