Sunday, February 22, 2009
Georgian Song Mocking Putin to Compete in Eurovision Contest in Moscow
Georgia's official entry for the 2009 Eurovision song contest is making more headlines than it anticipated. The country selected We Don't Wanna Put In by Stefan & 3G out of ten entries from a combination of televoting and an expert jury. Due to compete in Moscow between 12 and 16 May 2009 at the Olympic Indoor Arena, the song has upset some in Russia, notably Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, himself.
Some have called the disco-funk song a play on words of Putin's name. Dmitry Peskov, spokesman of the PM, commented that "...if it is really so, we should only regret that the contestants from Georgia[,] instead of concentrating on the art, use such a popular contest in Europe for demonstrating their pseudo-political ambitions, or - simply speaking - their hooliganism." This slur is likely to follow the group when they enter the Russian capital.
While some claim that it could fall foul of Eurovision's rule against political content in entries, a spokeswoman for Georgian Public Broadcasting (GPB), who are organising the country's Eurovision bid, told Reuters: "This song is not about politics, it has nothing to do with politics and politicians." Lyrically, the song's political references are minimal, if not nonexistent. Some target words might include "the negative move/It's killing the groove," but nothing more to indicate that it is directed at Russia.
The song's acclamation came about after the August 2008 Russian-Georgian War, in which Russia successfully invaded parts of Georgia, eventually recognizing the sovereignty of the two de-facto Georgian territories, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Although members of Stefane & 3G initially did not conceal their entry's political context, on February 20, Kristine Imedadze, one of the singers in the band. While Stefane Mgebrishvili, another member, publicly acknowledged the title reference to the Russian PM, the group is now eschewing any abhorrent assertions.
This move, however it is derived, is largely astute on the group's part. Reception to Georgian nationals ever since the 2004 Rose Revolution has been inimical, but now more than ever in light of the recent war. The largely Russian audience to attend Eurovision this May is not likely to be jumping up and getting into the groove when the song is played. If anything, the safety of the group members might be of more concern, especially now, considering Putin's disapproval of such hooliganism. Despite their best efforts at mitigating the political examination for their song, Stefan & 3G will no doubt be attracting more attention in the time up to the contest.
Eurovision is the annual competition held by member-countries of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Joined by Stefane Mgebrishvili, the trio 3G consists of Nini Badurashvili, Tako Gachechiladze and Kristine Imedadze.