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Azerbaijanis face Eurovision probe

Three months after this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, an unconfirmed number of Azerbaijanis who voted for the Armenian entry have been brought in for questioning by the police.  One man said he was accused of being unpatriotic and a “potential security threat.” Authorities said people were simply invited to explain their voting choices. Azerbaijan and ...

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MOSCOW - MAY 12: Inga and Anush Arshakyans of Armenia perform during the Eurovision Song Contest 2009 Semi Finals at Olimpiysky Arena on May 12, 2009 in Moscow, Russia. The 2009 Eurovision Song Contest Finals will be held on May 16. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images)

Three months after this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, an unconfirmed number of Azerbaijanis who voted for the Armenian entry have been brought in for questioning by the police.  One man said he was accused of being unpatriotic and a “potential security threat.” Authorities said people were simply invited to explain their voting choices.

Azerbaijan and Armenia have a history of strained relations, largely over territorial claims that remain unresolved. Last November, leaders of the neighboring countries pledged to find a political solution to the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, over which the two fought in the 1990s. Little progress, however, seems to have been made since.

Broadcast live every May since its inaugural telecast in 1956, Eurovision is today a cultural institution, and the epitome of Kunderian kitsch. Despite the organizers’ aspirations for an apolitical competition, historic undercurrents inevitably surface on screen. Habitual incidences of bloc voting occur, and in March Georgia’s entry “We Don’t Wanna Put In” was banned for its thinly-veiled reference to the Russian prime minister.

In Azerbaijan, 43 people are believed to have voted for Armenia’s entry “Jan Jan,” pictured above.


Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

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