When it comes to differences with Russia over energy or arms shipments, Azerbaijan rarely flinches or gives an inch. But when discussion turns to the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest, Europe’s annual sequin-studded pop-music extravaganza, Azerbaijan seems unusually solicitous in its reaction to Russia.
For the last week, there’s been lots of wailing in Moscow about the Eurovision results, which showed Azerbaijan gave no points to the Russian contestant, Dina Garipova. Yet amid all the back-and-forth about how to remedy the situation, no one has been able to offer a convincing explanation as to why Russia’s Eurovision anger matters so much to Baku.
Azerbaijani officials have appeared eager to make amends. President Ilham Aliyev called for an investigation, and Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov released data from all three of Azerbaijan’s mobile operators to support Baku’s assertion that, yes, it had voted for Garipova. Some Azerbaijani media reports have alleged rigging, a charge the European Broadcasting Union, which organizes Eurovision, emphatically denies.
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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance correspondent based in Baku.