As the next Eurovision Song Contest is only four months away and fans have already started planning for it, esctoday.com spoke to Vladislav Yakovlev, Deputy Executive for the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest as well as president of OGAE Russia, the local branch of the International Eurovision Song Contest fan network. Mr Yakovlev discussed with us the plans to accommodate guest fans as well as facilitate their travel plans but he also talked to us about the stage preparations for the contest are at this point.
Many fans have expressed their concern about the cost of the trip to Moscow. How will OGAE Russia help in this direction?
Like in previous years we will also try to do our best to help each OGAE club member and other Eurovision fans. First of all, the special web-site www.ogaezone.com is to be launched on 2nd of February (Monday) at 15:00 GMT. Fans may easily get the accommodation in Moscow there, buy the flight tickets, apply for Russian visa and book the transfer from the airport to your hotel. OGAE Russia's task is to assist the fans with all these services and find the accommodation at the lowest price ever. The reason is only one – we want to see here as many European friends as possible and we will do our best to reduce the price by all means, including negotiations of course.
With Moscow being an expensive city, would you say that it is possible for fans to spend one or two weeks on a budget? How realistic is that?
Based on my previous answer I should assure you that you may easily spend 2 weeks here, without no doubt. And even take a train to Saint-Petersburg after the Contest, as visa is given for one month.
The visa! This is also a major concern of the fans wishing to travel to Moscow in May. As the visa will not be abolished as it was in Kiev, could you give us some information on the procedure to be followed for fans? Will it be the same as for members of the press (accreditation leading to letter of invitation to be used for the visa)?
First of all, I would like to let you know that the Russian visa procedure simplification will be activated on 1st of March, 2009. That means that each Russian consulate in all European countries will have a special Eurovision bureau where you could easily apply and get your one entry visa very easily. I want to repeat that it starts from the 1st of March.
* Accreditation automatically leads to letter of invitation and there will be no charge for accredited guests.
* For those who have no accreditation and are planning to get the ticket directly in Moscow, we will provide the invitation letter via our website at an extra fee.
And a third, maybe the thorniest issue of all is that of safety. Would you, having lived all your life in Moscow, feel that fans should be concerned about that?
That's the least to worry about. I should assure you that the security will be at top level. The Eurovision Song Contest 2009 is under the Prime Minister's control. This means that it is a very important event and Russian authorities will take every possible measure to ensure our guests will have the best, safest and most enjoyable stay ever! Moreover being a Muscovite, I find it very comfortable living here, never had any kind of incidents here in my daily life.
What will be the OGAE Russia's role in the organisation of the contest and the welcoming of international fans? Will your members be responsible for the Eurocafe, same as last year? Something else maybe?
OGAE Russia and the Host Broadcaster are in the closest possible collaboration. We hold frequent meetings and as we share a common vision, to provide our guests with the best possible conditions for their stay, everything is running smoothly. As for the Eurocafe, we have already visited several places and will visit 2-3 more and at the end of February we will present it to your kind attention.
The main thing we proposed and ultimately achieved is to cancel the ticket packages. The OGAE members and Eurovision fans will no longer be obliged to attend the rehearsals or the semi final their country doesn't participate in – now after the allocation draw you may choose the exact date and time and do not overpay for the non-needed tickets.
As Vladislav Yakovlev is also Deputy Executive for the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest we went on to discuss with him some of the details regarding the actual organisation process of the contest.
Could you tell us something about the selection of the successor of Dima Bilan? How will Russia go about to select their next representative? Have any dates been set?
The national selection takes place in the beginning of March. It is going to be a great show including Russian former Eurovision participants' performances. I can't reveal anything for now, but I can say that you will enjoy it!
Rumour has it that Russia is feverishly preparing to offer the world the most spectacular Eurovision Song Contest in history. At what stage are preparations at the moment?
That's true. The Russian nation in general and Channel One Russia in particular are very ambitious. So we really want to impress our guests, not only by the show itself, but also by all the events during 2 weeks devoted to this fabulous European celebration. We are so nicely surprised by our own ideas, so we are sure that European guests will be surprised even more! As for the stage, its design has been approved and its elements are now being constructed, all the official places are huge and have enough space for everyone, the Press Centre is located inside the venue – something which is really important for the members of the international Press- the Opening Ceremony will be outside more or less like it was in Kiev and the Closing Ceremony will not take place at the Euroclub as it usually does. This will be THE Eurovision to remember!
Do we have any information as far as the hosts are concerned?
The Hosts are to be announced very soon. Right now C1R is in negotiations with several candidates, if we succeed with one of them, you might get another nice surprise on the stage. As it was previously announced during the press conference of the Allocation Draw, Philipp Kirkorov won't be a host of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest.
Where will the Euroclub and Eurocafe be located? How far from the Arena are they? Where will the Welcome party take place?
The Euroclub will be located in Manezh, this building is located on the Manezh Square which is close to the Red Square. The concept of the Euroclub is to be approved by the end of February. As I mentioned before, we are still searching for the right location of the Eurocafe, but I think we will find a place which will be at a short walking distance from the Euroclub. So our dear guests can move easily from one another if they do not want to dance, but just want to chat or have an Eurovision karaoke party. Both Euro-places are at 4-metro-stations-distance from the venue.
Esctoday.com would like to thank Mr Yakovlev for the interview.