Is Conchita’s the voice of doom? Russians think so

McClatchy Foreign StaffMay 12, 2014 

Austria Eurovision Song Contest

Austrian singer Conchita Wurst attends a press conference in Vienna, Austria Sunday May 11, 2014.


— After dealing with the outrage of what they insist without any actual proof is fascism in Ukraine, Russians are turning their gaze upon what they see as the latest abomination: Conchita Wurst, the cross-dressing winner of the 2014 Eurovision Song contest.

For the record, Conchita Wurst is a wig-wearing guy with a beard who dressed in sparkly gown and won a Europe-wide song contest Saturday night with "Rise Like a Phoenix." The Eurovision contest pits singers who’ve been nominated by each European nation against each other in a sort of American Idol on steroids contest.

The contest around most of Europe is seen as everything from "great fun" to "really silly but fun." The contest usually avoids being overly serious as its appeal is mostly camp, but this year votes for the Russian entrants were booed in apparent European disdain for Russia’s actions in Ukraine and anti-gay laws.

So perhaps the Russian political reaction is sour grapes. But Russians seem to be seeing the contest as a harbinger, and one of doom.

In fact, some Russian and regional leaders see connections between the "rampant fascism" of Ukraine and the "hotbed of fornication" that the song contest has become (according to Belarus’ Legion Alexander Lukashenko political group in calling for a boycott and ban on transmission of the contest).

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin is on the European sanctions list for Russian activities (the Crimean land grab, for instance) in Ukraine and has been dealing with being refused permission to fly over Romanian air space because of the sanctions. He promised Romania that he "would return with a bomber."

In looking at the contest winner, Rogozin brought up the root cause of unrest in Ukraine, European Integration.

"Eurovision showed European integrators their Euro prospects: a bearded girl," he tweeted in English.

In actuality, it was a desire to be aligned more closely with Europe than Russia that set off the protests in Kiev’s Independence Square, or Maidan, that led to the administration of President Viktor Yanukovych crumbling. Yanukovych fled to Russia in February.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite repeatedly noting that Yanukovych was not a worthy leader of Ukraine, used that flight and the replacement, interim government that he insisted is run by neo-Nazis, to justify sending troops to Crimea, and eventually annexing the place after a dubious public referendum.

And then came the song contest. Rogozin was hardly alone in his assessment of doom. Russian member of Parliament Vladimir Zhirinovski, a leading right winger in the Duma, joined the criticism.

"This is the end of Europe," he told Russian television.

Beyond other politicians, Rogozin appeared to be getting some support from everyday Russians.

"Who else would win in Europe these days but a pederast," Ilgiz Gubaev tweeted back to Rogozin, making what turns out to be not an uncommon if completely illogical and without supporting evidence assumption by those backing Rogozin.

One of the next tweet responses was even more direct, as Yevgeny Makhtey simply wrote: "Burn him."

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