Serbia has emerged as an unlikely candidate to win the Eurovision Song Contest after the first semi-final took place in Vienna last night, while Russia and Estonia remain among the favourites.
Serbia’s entry, sung by Bojana Stamenov, began as a rank outsider, but having brought the house down at the Wiener Stadthalle last night, is now sixth favourite to win, according to Oddschecker. Russia and Estonia, whose entries also progressed to the final, are third and fifth favourites respectively to win the competition. Other countries from the new east performed strongly in the first semi-final, with Albania, Armenia, Romania, Hungary and Georgia also booking their place in Saturday’s final.
The Eurovision Song Contest, which has been held annually since 1965, has a strong following in the gay community. Russia’s contestants last year, the Tolmachevy Twins, were booed by the audience on account of Russia’s record on gay rights and the law banning the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” to minors. The competition organisers had feared that Russia’s entry this year would be similarly received, however Polina Gargarina’s semi-final performance last night was greeted positively.