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Saturday 16 December 2017

Eurovision organisers reject accusations of vote rigging

Farid Mammadov of Azerbaijan performs his song Hold Me during the final of the Eurovision Song Contest
Farid Mammadov of Azerbaijan performs his song Hold Me during the final of the Eurovision Song Contest
Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

EUROVISION organisers have rejected any accusations of vote rigging at the year’s contest, after two separate allegations of voting fraud were made.

The EBU was forced to release a statement after the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov claimed that despite winning the Azerbaijani public vote, Russia received no points on the night.

However the EBU has pointed out that the overall result is a combined one of both the public vote and a jury vote – meaning if Russia finished very low with the juries it was possible it could get no points.

Another allegation was made that Azerbaijan had attempted to buy televotes in Lithuanaia.

A video emerged online which allegedly showed a person from Azerbaijan offering members of the Lithuanian public sim cards and cash to cast votes for their entry.

Azerbaijan finished second in the year’s competition.

However the EBU has again denied this amounted to manipulation of the vote.

The organisation pointed out that the video had not been authenticated, and even if it could be proved true a link would have to be established between the people involved and the Azerbaijan Eurovision team.

The EBU also said that the televotes are not counted by national phone companies, but counted and verified by Digame in Germany.

It added that observers from Price Waterhouse Coopers were sent unannounced to all broadcasters shortly before the jury vote to ensure it was conducted in accordance with the rules.

Dr. Frank Dieter Freiling, Chairman of the Eurovision Song Contest's governing body, said: "Let me be clear on this. If we find any clear evidence that the Rules are being breached, including attempts of power-voting, we act immediately to do what we are obliged to do on behalf of the Members: to protect the Eurovision Song Contest brand."

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