Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has ordered an inquiry into why his country gave Russia “nul points” at Saturday’s Eurovision Song Contest, the BBC reports.
Officials insist voters and the official Azerbaijan jury in fact gave strong backing to the Russian entry.
Azerbaijan’s state broadcaster suggested there may have been voting violations.
Russia gave the maximum 12 points to Azerbaijan’s entry – a ballad by Farid Mammadov.
Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Russia, Polad Bulbuloglu, disclosed that President Aliyev had ordered an investigation and votes were being recounted.
He said that a large number of voters in Azerbaijan, submitting votes by text message, had supported the Russian Federation.
“According to this data, Russia should have received 10 points from Azerbaijan,” he said.
Camil Guliyev, head of the country’s state broadcaster, said the failure to give Russia any points was of serious concern.
“We sincerely hope that this incident, possibly initiated by certain interest groups, will not cast a shadow over the brotherly relations of the Russian and Azerbaijani peoples,” he said, without elaborating.
Azerbaijan, which hosted last year’s contest, has traditionally tried to maintain good relations with Moscow though there have been tensions over energy in the past, the BBC writes.
The Telegraph recalls that last year Azerbaijan – which was hosting the event – squabbled with neighbouring Iran after Tehran alleged the country was hosting a gay pride event under the cover of the contest.
It reminds also that Armenia decided not to participate in the competition.