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Azerbaijanis Celebrate First-Ever Eurovision Win

Azerbaijanis are celebrating after taking top honors for the first time at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Thousands of people celebrated through the night in the capital, Baku, after the duo Eldar Gasimov and Nigar Jamal -- also known as Ell/Nikki -- won first place for their song "Running Scared.

Standing in a crowd of jubilant fans, Baku resident Uzeir Huseynov said it was a great day for Azerbaijan.

"I congratulate Nigar and Eldar on this wonderful day! I congratulate the entire Azeri nation on this fantastic, festive occasion!" he said. "Yes, we are the best! We were the best from the very beginning. And we won it!"

Public broadcasters hailed the win as a "great victory for Azerbaijani culture," and many in Azerbaijan say they are already looking ahead to next year, when the country will host the 2012 song contest.

Others say the increased attention may shed light on the country's repressive political regime and poor rights record.

This year's contest featured 43 countries and was watched by more than 100 million people.

Italy finished in second place, while Sweden was third in the 56th-annual edition of the contest.

compiled from agency reports

WATCH -- Thousands celebrate Azerbaijan's Eurovision victory in Baku's Freedom Square (in Azeri):

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