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Channel One: Eurovision Is Political Contest

'We've said before that Eurovision is a political contest, because over the last few years it has been won by countries planning to joint the EU: Latvia, Estonia and now Turkey,' said Igor Burenkov, the PR director of Channel One, today live on Echo of Moscow radio. He said that is could only be called 'a coincidence by looking at it through rose-tinted glasses.' 'We took megastars to Eurovision this year. Tatu are enormously popular and at the top of European charts, as well as being famous in Asia and America,' Burenkov added. 'You would have thought that this was enough. But it turns out that it isn't enough.'

Burenkov explained that there are two ways of voting for the winner of the contest. The first way is by phone, when viewers in different countries send SMS messages to the TV station, which collects them and passes them on to the organisers. The second way is through a national jury. This voting system is used in countries where there isn't a single operator covering at least 80% of the country, for example in Russia. Burenkov said that in the recent contest the telephone vote in Ireland was suddenly cancelled and replaced with a jury vote. As a result, the Russian duet received a zero from Ireland.

'Any mark could have cardinally altered the situation during the voting. And that's exactly what happened with Tatu - they were only 3 points off first place,' Burenkov went on. He said that on Tuesday Eirecom, the official Irish operator, was forced to announce that the results that it collected were not counted by the Eurovision organisers. Irish people had begun to contact Eirecom and ask why their votes had not been counted. The switch of voting systems was done secretly and people in Ireland didn't know about it.

'For Eirecom, its business reputation is important because it is an independent operator and it will continue to work in that market. The company's management announced that if their results had been counted, the result of the contest would have been very different,' stressed Burenkov. 'I understand why Eirecom has done this - Tatu are very popular in England and Ireland. Viewers in these countries have begun to complain.'

Burenkov said that Channel One had connected the heads of Eurovision and made an official request to see the results of the phone votes held by other operators. The company is particularly interested in countries which gave Russia 3 points or less: Ireland, the UK, the Netherlands, Malta, Sweden and Norway. 'People want us to close the door and leave, letting down an iron curtain again. We are not going to give anyone that satisfaction, though. We will fight for Russia's place in the international arena,' stressed Burenkov.

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