The mayors of Belgrade and Moscow were the focal point of one of the first major media events of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, held today in Moscow. The ceremony to transfer the host city insignia has been affectionately dubbed by fans as “The great Eurovision key change”.
Dragan Dilas, mayor of the 2008 host city Belgrade, officially handed over the Eurovision Song Contest (Ð�Ð²Ñ�Ð¾Ð²Ð¸Ð´ÐµÐ½Ð¸Ðµ in Russin) Host City Insignia to his Muscovite counterpart Yury Luzhkov, at a lavish ceremony in the Russian capital. The event generated a huge amount of interest, and scores of journalists had gathered at the GUM department store on Red Square to provide coverage of the handover.
In attendance with the two mayors was the Eurovision Song Contest reference group, headed by Svante Stockselius, and also some familiar faces from Russian participations of old: Youddiph, Russia's very first Eurovision Song Contest hopeful from 1994, and Philip Kirkorov, the country's 1995 singer as well as composer and delegation head for several recent participations including Belarus 2007 and Ukraine 2008.
And of course, the reason for the Moscow contest itself, Dima Bilan, was present and willing to perform for the gathered press. He is said to be looking forward immensely to the 2009 event, stating that "I am happy and impatient like a young child, eagerly waiting for this gift box to open".
All welcome in Moscow
At the press conference, it was confirmed that the city of Moscow will invest some 35 million Euros in the staging of the contest. Mayor Luzhkov was also keen to stress that "people are welcome to Moscow, regardless of their sexual orientation".
Additionally, the director of Channel One also explained that Russia's home entry will be selected in a series of television shows next year.