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Azeris Questioned Over Eurovision Vote For Armenia


Russia -- Armenian Eurovision entrants Anush and Inga Arshakian perform at the Russian party held in the Euro-House, Moscow, 14May2009

Russia -- Armenian Eurovision entrants Anush and Inga Arshakian perform at the Russian party held in the Euro-House, Moscow, 14May2009

Law-enforcement authorities in Azerbaijan have reportedly tracked down and interrogated local residents that voted for Armenia in this year’s Eurovision song contest.

Singers from both South Caucasus nations competed in the finale of one of Europe’s most popular television shows that took place in Moscow on May 16. The winner of the annual competition was decided by a jury of music industry specialists formed in each of the participating nations and millions of TV viewers voting by phone or by SMS.

Armenia gave one out of 12 maximum points to an Azerbaijani duo that finished third in the contest. Although the Armenian entry, performed by sisters Anush and Inga Arshakian, scored zero points in Azerbaijan, it appears to have been liked by some Azerbaijanis.

At least one of them, Rovshan Nasirli, was summoned on Wednesday to the Ministry of National Security in Baku and told to explain why he voted for his country’s arch-foe. “They said that is important for state security,” Nasirli told RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani service. “They interrogated and subjected me to psychological pressure.

“They were saying, ‘What kind of a guy are you?’ ‘Don’t you have a nationality?’ ‘Why did you vote for Azerbaijan?’ and so on. I replied, ‘If Azerbaijani deputies can go to Armenia, then why can’t ordinary citizens vote for a song they like?’”

Russia -- AySel and Arash of Azerbaijan sing during a first dress rehearsal of the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow, 13May2009
The young man said he also explained that he found the Arshakians’ folksy “Jan, jan!” song to be more Azerbaijani-style than the Azerbaijan’s “Always” entry written and performed by Iranian-Swedish singer Arash. He said he was let go after signing a written explanation of his Eurovision preference.

Nasirli also said that one of his interrogators had a list of 43 Azerbaijanis along with their contact details on his desk. He believes that they too voted for Armenia during the 54th Eurovision contest won by Norway.

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