MOSCOW — As might be expected, Russia's foreign minister spent his day Tuesday grappling with the biggest international crisis facing his country, an "outrageous incident" that has inflamed public passions.
And Sergei Lavrov promised decisive action: an investigation into whether Russia was robbed of 10 votes in Europe's equivalent of "American Idol," the annual Eurovision song contest.
As Eurovision 2013 came to an end Saturday, the Russian participant, Dina Garipova, came in 5th, far behind first-place winner Emmelie de Forest of Denmark, and 17 points behind the fourth-place Norwegian contestant.
Russian viewers, however, were outraged that Garipova was apparently denied 10 points she should have received from voters in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan. Although the points would have made no difference in the final rankings, the issue was front and center Monday as Lavrov met by prior arrangement with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Foreign Minister Elmar Mamadyorov.
The first question thrown at the Russian foreign minister at a news conference with Mamadyorov had to do with the Eurovision contest, which is perhaps best known for launching ABBA.
“The fact that 10 points were stolen from the Russian participant doesn’t make us happy, first of all,” Lavrov said. “We agreed with E.M. Mamedyarov that after Azerbaijani Public Television clarifies legal ways of getting exhaustive explanation we will coordinate our joint actions and not leave this outrageous incident without a response.”
Garipova apparently came second with the audience in Azerbaijan, which should have entitled her to 10 points. However, the announcement on Azeri television gave her no points.
A member of the Russian delegation to the contest, however, was not as adamant in her resolve to get to the bottom of the issue. In fact, she seemed pleased with the result.
“I think the Danish participant deserved her victory,” Yana Churikova, a well-known news anchor on First Channel, a national television network, said in an interview with The Times. “The fifth place for Dina Garipova is a wonderful breakthrough for the young singer and we are very happy for her.”
Churikova refused to comment on the vote-count controversy.