MALMO (Sweden), May 15 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s entry in this year’s Eurovision contest, Dina Garipova, will take part in the finals of Europe’s most popular song contest after clearing the semi-finals with a solid performance of her “What If” ballad.
Garipova, 22, competed with representatives from Austria, Estonia, Slovenia, Croatia, Denmark, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Montenegro, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, Ireland, Cyprus, Belgium and Serbia at the first semi-finals at the Malmo Arena late on Tuesday.
The second semi-finals will be held on Thursday to determine another 10 Eurovision title contestants.
The grand finale on May 18 will feature 26 performers – 20 winners of the two semi-finals, as well as representatives of the host country Sweden and the “Big Five” (the founders and the main sponsors of the contest – France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK).
Garipova, who was picked as Russia’s entry at Eurovision after winning the popular “Voice” television show last year, is considered by bookmakers as one of the favorites at the contest although Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest with “Only Teardrops” is still on top of the most-likely winner list.
In 2008, Russian pop star Dima Bilan brought Russia the country’s only victory at Eurovision with “Believe.”
His success was heralded by Russia’s state-run media as a sign the country was “finally making a return to Europe and reclaiming its superpower status in politics and culture, including popular music.”