European backlash against Russia appeared to spill over into the biggest song contest in the world on Tuesday, as Russian contestants the Tolmachevy Sisters were booed by the Eurovision Song Contest audience in Denmark when they qualified for the competition’s finals.
The BBC reports that Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine, as well as its harsh stance on gay rights, could have a negative impact on the Tolmachevy Sisters’ chances in the competition. The sisters—17-year-old twins Anastasia and Maria, who hail from the Russian city of Kursk—were the 2006 champs of the children’s version of the Eurovision contest, and they’re now aiming for this year’s big prize. As with all Eurovision contestants, their song is an originally written number for competition, called “Shine”:
The Eurovision Song Contest is an annual international competition where participating countries put forward musical acts and the European public votes for its favorite. Yet while the competition tends to be a lesson in over-the-top theatrics and/or camp—both Celine Dion and ABBA launched their careers at Eurovision—the contest is also notable for its political undertones. Eurovision has an annual audience of more than 100 million people watching the competition on television and voters are often swayed by the politics of a contestant’s home country, rather than the actual performance. And much like the rest of the world, in Europe, all eyes are on Russia and the escalating tension in Ukraine.
Though their song has taken them to the finals, the Tolmachevy Sisters will still have to compete against more than a dozen other finalist acts, including those from Montenegro, Hungary, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland — and Ukraine.