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Sweden Plays Eurovision Host, With Main Sponsor Mired In Scandal

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

When Swedish singer Loreen won the Eurovision Song Contest last year in Baku, she emerged as an outspoken champion of human rights in the former Soviet Union.

She angered host country Azerbaijan by meeting with activists and saying rights in the oil-rich nation were abused "every day."

Two months later, during a trip to Belarus, she criticized President Alyaksandr Lukashenka for jailing opponents and visited the wife of imprisoned activist Ales Byalyatski, saying the plight of the divided family "breaks my heart."

So as Sweden prepares to host the 58th Eurovision final on May 18 in Malmo, there may have been hopes the liberal EU nation would follow suit and use the contest to gently push human rights onto the agenda.

Instead, Sweden is facing a rights liability of its own, with the communications giant TeliaSonera serving as the event's main sponsor.

TeliaSonera made international headlines last year when it was accused of paying hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of Uzbekistan's president, in exchange for access to that Central Asian country's massive mobile-phone market.

To read the full story

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

Sweden Plays Eurovision Host, With Main Sponsor Mired In Scandal

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