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Sweden Wins Eurovision Final In Baku, Ahead Of Russia, Serbia

  • RFE/RL

Sweden’s Loreen, the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest for 2012, poses with her trophy in Baku.

Sweden’s Loreen, the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest for 2012, poses with her trophy in Baku.

Swedish singer Loreen has triumphed at the 57th Eurovision Song Contest in Azerbaijan, with her dance hit "Euphoria."

The 28-year-old easily outscored entries from her nearest rivals from Russia and Serbia to be declared winner of the Eurovision final that ended in the early hours of May 27 in the capital, Baku.

Loreen is of Moroccan-Berber descent and her song, "Euphoria," has already topped the Swedish charts for six weeks.

Her victory earns Sweden the right to host the competition next year.

Second was Russia's Buranovskiye Babushki, a group of six grannies, the eldest of them 77.

Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated the grannies and promised to pay a visit to their village soon. In a statement, Putin said he was "delighted by the talent and gusto shown by the Babushki in the contest."

Serbia, represented by Eurovision veteran Zeljko Joksimovic, came in third place.

Azerbaijan’s Sabina Babayeva was fourth.

A combination of points from viewers across the continent and national juries decided the winner.

More than 100 million typically watch the annual contest on television around the world.

A total of 26 finalists took the stage in Baku's Crystal Hall, a $134 million concert venue on a point jutting out into the Caspian Sea, in front of a live audience of some 20,000.

The final included performers from Moldova, Macedonia, Ukraine, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Albania.

Azerbaijan's neighbor Armenia, which is locked in a conflict with Baku over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh territory, a mainly ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, boycotted the event.

Azerbaijan secured the right to host the contest when an Azerbaijani duo won last year's Eurovision event in Germany.

PHOTO GALLERY: Street celebrations in Baku

On the eve of the final, police detained dozens of antigovernment protesters in Baku.

Azerbaijan's authoritarian government has sought to use the Eurovision song contest to present the oil-rich country as a modern, prosperous state, and has spent millions of dollars on improvements in the capital.

Opposition activists, however, have seized on the increased international media presence to draw attention to alleged human rights abuses.

With reporting by AFP, dpa, AP, and Reuters

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