Norwegian favourite Alexander Rybak is already attracting a lot of media attention in Russia, including an appearance on a TV programme watched by up to 18 million Russian viewers.
Already the pre-contest hot favourite, Rybak is on the way to becoming a well-known name in the host country even before the rehearsals have begun. He has generated such interest in Russia, that journalists and camera crews have been travelling all the way to Norway to follow the young star's preparations for Moscow.
Last week, a crew from Russian channel NTV – one of Russia's biggest TV concerns – arrived in the Norwegian capital to produce a documentary portrait of Alexander. According to producer Marina Sagamonyan, the programme it featured in regularly grabs audiences of up to 18 million viewers, meaning that the artist could have garnered precious major exposure in the build-up to the contest. She adds that Russians have great faith in Norway's entry this year, placing him firmly at the top of the favourites list. "A lot has been said and written about Alexander recently in Russia" she explains. "We think he's going to win. His song is great and catchy. And at the same time, Alexander has a really natural and slightly naive air about him. He comes across as genuine, and people like that."
The television crew to visit Alexander is not normally used for stories beyond the Russian borders, a fact that Alexander can take as a huge compliment; Marina adds that journalist Alexey Simiakhin, who speaks only Russian, was "over the moon to visit such a beautiful country as Norway. He's really happy to be here and meet Alexander."