Azerbaijan: Aliyev Son-in-Law Scores Eurovision Gig
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s son-in-law, pop singer Emin Agalarov, has been confirmed as an act for Baku’s staging of Eurovision, the European Broadcasting Union’s annual pop blow-out, but a senior contest executive maintains that special interests did not play a role in the decision.
In a May 2 statement, the Eurovision.tv website announced that guest acts for the May 22-26 event “combine Azerbaijan’s music and culture and are a synthesis of national traditions and modern trends.” Along with the 32-year-old Agalarov, the Azerbaijan National Dance Ensemble, mugham singer Alim Gasimov and the band Natiq will also take part.
Agalarov’s inclusion, originally announced last month by the Moscow-based singer himself, had sparked criticism about favoritism. First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva heads the organizational committee for the event, which kicks off the day after the May 21 worldwide release of Agalarov’s latest album, “After the Thunder.”
But in emailed comments on May 3, Sietse Bakker, event supervisor for the Eurovision Song Contest 2012, maintained that “[t]he people who have proposed Emin as [an] interval act have only one interest: To make the best Eurovision Song Contest possible in Azerbaijan.”
Azerbaijan’s public broadcaster, Ictimai TV, was responsible for issuing the invitation, which had to be confirmed by the Eurovision Song Contest committee.
Describing Agalarov , the husband of President Aliyev’s elder daughter, Leyla, as “a respected artist in Azerbaijan and abroad,” Bakker maintained that the European Broadcasting Union, the contest’s producer, “has strict control over the content and would not accept anything but a fantastic interval act.”
“Rejecting Emin because he is the son-in-law of the President would make this a political decision - and that is exactly what we don't want to do,” Bakker added.
Agalarov, who has been active in events leading up to the concert, has not yet issued a comment on the announcement.