Russian authorities have finally found a case of alleged voting fraud that they can get really incensed about. No, it’s not the 2011 Duma elections, which experts from across Russia’s political spectrum now agree were probably falsified on a huge scale. That has never been the subject of official outrage, or even investigation. This is something far more important: the continental song competition, Eurovision. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists yesterday that he was “outraged” to learn that the voting system in neighboring Azerbaijan had eliminated the votes cast for Russian Eurovision contestant Dina Garipova in that country. Voters registering their preferences by cellphone had given a second-place finish to Ms. Garipova – which should have given her 10 points in the overall contest – but they had somehow disappeared in the reporting process.
“We can’t be happy with the fact that 10 points were stolen from our participant, primarily in terms of how this event is organized,” Mr. Lavrov said during a previously scheduled joint press conference in Baku with Azeri Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.
“We have agreed with Elmar Mammadyarov that we will discuss joint measures to ensure that this outrageous action will not go unanswered,” Lavrov added.
The head of Azerbaijan’s broadcasting company, Jamil Guliyev, quickly acknowledged that some sort of mistake had occurred.
“We sincerely hope that this case, which was probably initiated by some groups, would not cast a shadow on brotherly relations of Azeri and Russian people,” he told journalists.