Aggrieved Russians feel robbed

MOSCOW – «Hard Rock Hallelujah» may have triumphed over «Never Let You Go» but for some Russians, Eurovision was a scandal. One day after five Finns in monster masks edged out a Russian heartthrob at Europe’s largest and most-watched pop music contest, some Russians complained yesterday that the vote was skewed against their country. Some callers to the Ekho Moskvy radio station proclaimed Dima Bilan’s superiority to the Finnish group Lordi; one aggrieved woman said the result was the latest in a series of anti-Russian moves by Europeans. «’We are First!’ That’s exactly how many Russians are reacting to the results of the international contest, Eurovision 2006,» the anchorwoman for state-run Channel One – which broadcast the contest live – said as the channel led its noontime newscast. «Many specialists considered the vote for the victor to be a protest vote,» she asserted. «The feeling was that the contest was more about circus performers, clowns and pyrotechnic effects, and not a song contest,» Yuri Aktsyuta, a top music producer at Channel One, said in televised comments. «I will never believe that the song by the Finnish group Lordi was a better and stronger song than ours,» he said. «I think that Russia was the winner and the voting was a protest vote, to some extent, but it was unclear what the protest was for.» Not all Russians were critical of the results, however; 80 percent of people responding to an unscientific poll by Ekho Moskvy said Bilan’s second-place finish was a success. Yana Rudkovskaya, a Russian official who escorted Bilan to the contest, said many people «from the European broadcasting community» told her Bilan should have won. «They all said the same thing: ‘You won, I’m sorry, but it turned out that you were just unlucky,» she was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency.