Moscow Mayor receives Host City Insignia
Earlier this afternoon, Belgrade Mayor Dragan Dilas handed over the Eurovision Song Contest Host City Insignia to his Moscow colleague, Mayor Yury Luzhkov. "It is with great dignity that I receive these insignia, and that we have the opportunity to welcome the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow," Luzhkov said. The Serbian capital Belgrade hosted the event earlier this year. We were there, and we have some photos for you!
Hundreds of journalists, dozens of photographers and camera men gathered at the GUM shopping mall at the Red Square in Moscow, to see what is considered to be the first big media event in the lead up the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest. The EBU Reference Group of the Eurovision Song Contest attended the ceremony as well.
The Mayor of Belgrade was able to give his speech in Russian, after studying the language for many years. Dilas told the media how wonderful the experience was for Belgrade, and he offered his congratulations and support to the City of Moscow.
Luzhkov, Mayor of Moscow, one again underlined that the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest will be organized at the highest standard, and that the city government will do what is necessary to make its Eurovision Song Contest visitors feel welcome. "We are doing what it takes to run a smooth operation," he said. "The Eurovision Song Contest is a very big event. Besides a musical contest, it unites Europe through the common language of music," he added.
After a video looking back at the contest in Belgrade and the official ceremony, Eurovision Song Contest winner Dima Bilan came on stage to welcome the audience and say a word about his victory. "I can say that I am happy and impatient like a young child, eagerly waiting for this gift box to open," Bilan referred to the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow. He then gave a 1-minute a-capella performance of his winning song, Believe.
Youddiph, Russia's first Eurovision Song Contest representative in 1994 with Vyechniy Stranik, also attended, as well as 1995 representative Philip Kirkorov. The Russian popstar also wrote the Eurovision Song Contest entries for Belarus in 2007 and Ukraine in 2008.
During the press conference, which was attended by both Mayors, Valeriy Vinogradov of the City of Moscow, Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor Svante Stockselius on behalf of the EBU, Dima Bilan and Channel One director Konstantin Ernst, journalists asked several questions about the financial arrangements for the upcoming city, as well as the Russian national selection. The Mayor repeated that the city will invest some 35 million euro in hosting the contest. Channel One director Ernst told journalists that the Russian 2009 contestant will be picked on television, in a series of selection shows. Seperately from that selection process, song writers and composers can send in their productions.
Stockselius indicated that we are heading for another record number of participting countries in 2009. However, no announcements on the final list of participants will be made until later this month. So, stay with Eurovision.tv for the latest news on the final list of participants!
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov was asked specifically by a journalist about the city's position towards gay visitors who would like to attend the Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow. The Mayor underlined that "people are welcome to Moscow, regardless their sexual orientation."
At the cocktail after the ceremony, Dima Bilan improvised a mini-concert in front of a mass of cameras and once again repeated how much he is looking forward to the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow. Camera crews from, amongst others, Russian Channel One, Spanish broadcaster TVE and German broadcaster ARD were present.