Tom Parfitt: A tale of tyranny that lurks behind kitsch of Eurovision
The countdown to kitsch has begun. When the final of the 57th Eurovision Song Contest opens in the oil-rich Caucasus state of Azerbaijan tomorrow, fans can look forward to the customary explosion of glam and glitter.
Contestants including Jedward will perform at a specially built 25,000-seater venue, the Crystal Hall, on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The building is shaped like a diamond-encrusted crown and studded with 45,000 light-emitting diodes.
But as the annual festival of tackiness approaches, organisers are facing calls to confront Azerbaijan's president, Ilham Aliyev, over his increasingly dictatorial regime. The 50-year-old leader has stamped out dissent in the former Soviet state since succeeding his father in 2003.