Likely Televote Appeal
Likely Jury Appeal
Historical Support Strength
Russia are in the unique situation where they are likely to be abandoned by many of their traditional allies from the Baltic regions. Despite some diaspora, will the juries also follow suit and punish Russia's recent political actions?
The last song for Eurovision 2014 has finally been presented. Russia’s internally selected Tolmachevy Sisters have unveiled their song Shine.
How do you solve a problem like Russia?
Traditionally, when writing a review about a Russian Eurovision entry, one wouldn’t need to bother with politics, it would just be a case of assessing where in the top-10 they are likely to finish.
Last year, Russia voted to ban gay propaganda, which effectively reclassified all members of the Russian LGBT community as second-class citizens. This tremendously controversial move impacted on the media coverage of the Sochi Winter Olympics with a number of athletes using international press to voice their criticism of the retrograde step. To make matters worse, Pussy Riot staged their own street demonstration and were humiliatingly thrashed on the street by officers.
Over the last several weeks, the Russian top brass decided to venture into Ukraine’s sovereign territory to reclaim the mainly Russian-speaking region of Crimea and have since staged a questionable referendum and have consequently switched the local currency back to the Rouble.
The international condemnation of Russia’s actions has been deafening. I’m not here to judge, I’m just presenting what I believe will be a sobering moment in Russia’s relationship with Eurovision.
The ex-Soviet Baltic region was fairly anti-Russian before the Crimean crisis, but their opinions have now hardened. Despite substantial diaspora, I expect those supportive Russian votes to be turned over by the juries. Don’t forget, the new ranking system means that if Russia topped the televote, they can still get zero points if the jury ranking contrasts too much in comparison. As a result, Estonia and Latvia will award either very low points to Russia, or no points at all.
We can count Ukraine out for Russian points too. Their jury will exploit the contest to send a message to the Russian leadership.
Armenia will stand by Russia, so there’s at least 10 points expected. Azerbaijan on the other hand is expected to favour Ukraine. I don’t expect Russia to be frozen out, but I do anticipate single-digit score.
Like Ukraine, Moldova has a deeply divided region in the form of Transdniestria, where recently, the parliament’s speaker urged Russia to incorporate his mainly Russian-speaking region. The Transdniestria region separated from Moldova in 1990. The Moldovan president has stridently warned Russia against such a move. Moldova traditionally award Russia 8 points, but despite the strength of the Russian-speaking Transdniestria region, I expect their jury to send a clear message.
So that leaves the western nations to rescue Russia.
The Tolmachevy Sisters’ song is somewhat disappointing. There are suggestions that some of the lyrics refer to the Crimean situation, which I’m sure the EBU has already dismissed. Even so, I do expect the line, “Telling all the world to show some love” to receive some sarcastic sniggers.
Shine does have a few moments that will please neutral juries, but for the most part, the entry is rather bland.
Therefore, on song quality alone, I doubt the televote and jury scores for Russia will be particularly high in Western Europe either. Add that to the current political climate and Russia’s points will surely nosedive further.
By my current reckoning, Russia stands to lose over 30 points from their regional allies. In terms of remaining hard points, I anticipate a measly 20 points from their most ardent supporters. Add maybe another 20-35 points from neutral juries for what is a very average song and we’re looking a potential score ranging from 40-55. The upper end of that range would have earned qualification in most of the semi-finals since 2008, but a score under 50 would tend to result in non-qualification.
In 2011, Alexey Vorobyob qualified with a lowly 64 points where Russia received just one maximum 12 points from Armenia. The rest of Russia’s points came from a spread of 3s and 5s across the various regions of Europe. Get You was an abysmal song, but it was saved by the televote. Shine is nowhere near as bad as Get you, but the televote won’t be there to rescue Russian pride.
I seriously believe that Russia is in for a dismal Eurovision this year. If the Crimea story remains in the news, the value bet will be non-qualification.
One thing to bear in mind however, is that Fokas Evangelinos might be involved in the choreography. He’s the guy that brought us Azerbaijan’s glass box and Sakis Rouvas’ folding travelator platform.
How much will Europe punish Russia in Eurovision?
- Qualification History
- Final Performance
Highest semi-final score (since 2004): 217 (2006: Dima Bilan – Never Let You Go)
Lowest semi-final score (since 2004): 64 (2011: Alexej Vorobjov – Get You)
Average semi-final finishing position: 4th
Average semi-final score: 133 points
Highest score (since 2004): 177 (2012: Buranovskiye Babushki – Party for Everybody)
Lowest score (since 2004): 57 (2005: Natalia Podolskaya – Nobody Hurt No One)
Average final position: 8th (7.7)
Average final score: 154 points
Armenia – 10.9
Belarus – 10.7
Ukraine – 9.2
Estonia – 9.0
Latvia – 8.4
Moldova – 8.4
Lithuania – 7.8
Israel – 7.6
Montenegro – 6.0