Eurovision Song Contest and Patriotism update

Following up on our earlier story about the harassment of Azerbaijani citizens who voted for the song performed by neighboring Armenia in the Eurovision Song Contest, it turns out that the contest organisers—The European Broadcasting Union—have changed the rules in an attempt to stop this totalitarian behaviour.

Here’s a quick reminder of what occurred when those citizens who voted “unpatriotically” were reported to the Azerbaijan government:

In one example of the harassment, Rovshan Nasirli, a 25-year-old Azerbaijani, was called to the country’s National Security Ministry on August 12 to explain why he voted for an Armenian song in the contest broadcast from Moscow in May.

The officials told Nasirli that his vote for Armenia — Azerbaijan’s long-standing rival — was a matter of national security and requested a written explanation before releasing him.

A written explanation? Really? Nasirili should follow the example of this Florida man and tell the officials that it wasn’t him but his cat that voted for the song.

Understandably, all these political shenanigans provoked a strong reaction from the EBU with the Director-General Jean Reveillon stating that violating the privacy of voters “or interrogation of individuals…is totally unacceptable.”

Because it cannot directly influence either the government or the telecom companies that carry the text voting information, the EBU have placed the onus onto the national broadcasters carrying the transmissions. If the broadcasters make the voting information available, they can be fined or face a ban from carrying the contest in future.

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