Russia’s defense ministry plans to hold a song contest as an alternative to Eurovision amidst local officials and politicians’ criticisms of the European competition for allegedly promoting “degrading moral values.”
“We are currently finalizing the idea,” Anton Gubankov, head of the defense ministry’s culture department, was quoted as saying by the Russian news agency TASS. “The first qualifying round could probably be held this year.”
According to Gubankov, the idea originally came from defense minister Sergei Shoigu and the contest is to be run in collaboration with the TV station Zvezda, owned by the ministry.
“Eurovision may be okay, but, with so many nationalities and ethnicities in Russia, as well as specific regions, our motherland is an entirely self-sufficient world,” he said.
Gubankov did not specify if the contest is going to be open to international participants, but mentioned that it should draw on the tradition of Soviet-era song contests, which used to “unite the country,” suggesting that at least contenders from the former Soviet republics are to be welcome.
While Gubankov avoided openly criticizing Eurovision, many other officials and politicians did not try to hide their disappointment when cross-dresser Conchita Wurst won the contest in 2014, seeing it as sign of Europe’s “degrading moral values.”
Back then, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin dismissed Wurst’s win in a post on Twitter, saying: “Eurovision showed European integrators their Euro-prospect — a bearded girl.”
Hardline legislator Vitaly Milonov, who was behind a national “law against gay propaganda” several years before, went even further, calling on Russian singers to boycott Eurovision and ban Wurst from touring Russia. His calls remained unheard, though, while the Austrian singer never showed any desire to come to Russia on tour.
At around the same time, the idea of organizing “an alternative song contest” was first floated.
Meanwhile, the defense ministry would not be a totally unlikely host for a contest like that as it has held two editions of a small contest for children and youth, which still failed to attract public or media attention.