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Eurovision courts more controversy -

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Eurovision courts more controversy

The World Today - Thursday, 12 March , 2009 12:42:00

Reporter: Scott Bevan

ELEANOR HALL: It's a music competition that's tried to steer clear of politics but now the
Eurovision contest has become embroiled in the simmering dispute between Russia and Georgia.

The Georgian team has pulled out of the competition because it was barred from singing a tune that
sounded like a protest aimed at Russia.

Moscow correspondent Scott Bevan reports.

(Excerpt from 'Waterloo' by Abba)

SCOTT BEVAN: It's the contest that's helped bring to the world's ears, this:

(Excerpt from 'Waterloo' by Abba)

And this:

(Excerpt from 'Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu' by Domenico Modugno)

But Eurovision's organisers are determined that what the globe won't hear are these lyrics:

(Excerpt from 'We Don't Wanna Put In' by Stephane and 3G)

This was Georgia's entry in the annual song contest and the ditty's called 'We Don't Wanna Put In'.

Now it's not the grammar in saying 'wanna' that's caused offence. The problem lies with those last
two words in the title - put in.

They've been interpreted as a not too subtle pun referring to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin, whose country was at war with Georgia seven months ago.

Relations between the two countries are still highly strained.

Eurovision representatives have had a good, hard listen to 'We Don't Wanna Put In' for under the
contest rules, no lyrics of a political nature are allowed. So the Georgian entrants have been told
to change the lyrics or choose another song.

The group behind 'We Don't Wanna Put In' is called Stephane and 3G, and they've reportedly denied
the tune has any political overtones.

The song was selected by a jury and public vote.

Malkhaz Gulashvili, the owner of the Georgian Times media group, says this wasn't the best song in
the contest so it must have been chosen for another reason.

MALKHAZ GULASHVILI (translated): It's only due to the political nuances, with the words about
Putin, that this song was selected as the winner.

SCOTT BEVAN: Russia is hosting this year's Eurovision song contest, with dozens of countries from
across Europe and the Middle East each sending a representative to Moscow in May to warble for
national glory.

Russians will have a Ukrainian, Anastasia Prikhodko, holding the microphone and waving the banner
for them. She even sings part of her tune, 'Mamo', in Ukrainian.

(Excerpt from 'Mamo')

Initially this selection annoyed Russian music producer Iosif Prigozhin. He's also the husband of
another singer who had wanted to represent Russia. But now the high profile producer says he's fine
about it. Instead, Iosif Prigozhin is miffed about Georgia's song.

'They didn't elect Putin, so it's not for them to sing whether they want him or not,' the producer
says. 'We're totally against the song being turned into a political statement. The Moscow stage
isn't a place for a rally.'

The Moscow stage, it seems, is not going to be a place for any Georgian songs in this year's
Eurovision contest. Late Wednesday, Georgian organisers announced that they were refusing to change
the lyrics and were pulling out of the contest.

What's more, the Georgians say they told Eurovision that they reserve the right to be suspicious
that Russia exerted pressure for the song to be changed.

The ABC sought an interview with a Eurovision spokesman but without success.

This is Scott Bevan in Moscow for The World Today.