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Why is Eurovision selection tour jury voting secret in Belarus?

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ALEKSEEV. Image: Euroradio

Ukrainian singer ALEKSEEV will represent Belarus at the Eurovision 2018 song contest in Lisbon in May. He received 12 points from the jury and TV views. The TV voting result may have been predictable as ALEKSEEV enjoys a big female fan base in Belarus. What about the jury? 

Firstly, secrecy is very strange. The jury members have to sign a confidentiality agreement. The Belarusian Eurovision rules state that a professional jury vote is secret. If everything is fair and transparent, why should it be a secret? Euroradio has asked the Belarusian State Broadcasting Company for permission to see the results of the jury vote. We have been refused!

"The Belarusian State Broadcasting Company is not planning to make the jury vote results public. Everyone knows who was in the jury and you can ask them how they voted. Every jury member has the right to decide whether to reveal this information. Yes, they did sign a confidentiality agreement but even if they tell you how they voted, they will not be penalized for it,” press secretary Svyatlana Smalonskaya-Kraskuoskaya reported the organizers’ position.

Secondly, the jury members say that they voted without knowing the televoting results. Why was their decision announced 90 minutes after the televoting had ended? Was it just for the show? It would be fair to announce all the results at the same time.

Thirdly, the person who scored the most points wins in the jury voting. It means hat the jury members did not have to give 12 points to ALEKSEEV. However, some of the jury members needed to give him a lot of points. Everyone understands that ALEKSEEV’s presence in the Belarusian selection tour was not a coincidence. It must have been a move prepared by the Belarusian state Broadcasting Company: the young man was supposed to attract attention to the selection tour and all the conditions were created for it.

Evidently, the jury consisted of professionals who liked ALEKSEEV. Valery Daineka who criticized the future winner after the first hearing and was simply not invited to the jury in the final. Radius FM director and head of the jury Alena Trashchynskaya has explained why she gave the highest score to the Ukrainian:

"The jury must be impartial. Only the televoting can be subjective. The jury is supposed to impartially assess the song, performance and show. Whose’ show was the best? Europe likes good shows. Speaking about the drawbacks in the singing… people do feel nervous. Nikita sang much better in the semi-final. Furthermore, the person going to Eurovision should be famous. ALEKSEEV is well-known. I gave him 12 points. For instance, if Syarhey Malinouski had given him a low score, he would not be able to win in the jury voting. He would not have won unless almost all the jury members gave him the biggest number of points.”

The jury at the first hearing of Eurovision-2018 selection tour

Kapyonkin: the Ukrainian had been announced the singer of the year on this TV channel. Why invite a person who would definitely prefer ALEKSEEV to the jury? Unfortunately, Euroradio has not managed to contact him and ask how he voted. Deputy director of Belarus 1 Volha Salamaha (she refused to comment on the voting), representative of the Ministry of Culture Tatstsyana Parhimovich (on a sick leave now) could vote for ALEKSEEV. Leader of the ban Atlantika Alex David and producer Andrei Kalina explained to Euroradio why ALEKSEEV was better than the other finalists but refused to comment on their own voting because they had signed a confidentiality agreement. However, they could vote for the Ukrainian too.

Syarhei Malinouski and Alyaksandr Charnuha in the jury in the Eurovision-2018 sletcion tour

Komsamolskaya Pravda reporter Syarhey Malinouski did not hide the fact that he had given 12 points to Hyunesh. He would not even put ALEKSEEV in the third position. Teacher of vocal Ihar Melnikau liked the band Radiovolna the best.  He would never put ALEKSEEV in the first position, Onliner.by observer Alyaksandr Charnuha confessed to Euroradio. He liked the band Radiovolna, Shuma and Anastasiya Malashkevich. Naturally, these opinions could not change anything if the winner got 12 points from 6 members of the jury. That is why ALEKSEEV’s victory seems real.

How could Shuma get only 4 points from the jury while being put in the second place by viewers? It surprised the band and many Eurovision fans. We only know that Malinouski gave 10 points to this band. Charnuha probably gave Shuma 8 (or even 12) points and they probably got 8 points from Melnikau. Not bad, is it? To make one of the best participants get 4 points, all the other jury members needed to give Shuma 3 points maximum!

"According to the jury members, Shuma’s music is different, it is club history. You need a Eurovision song to go to Eurovision, the jury memebrs think,” head of the jury Alena Trashchynskaya explained Shuma’s low score. 

Was club history a problem? Shuma could get such a low score if it was the same as Hyunesh’s. Belarus can send the runner-up to Eurovision if the winner is unable to go there for some unexpected reason. Would they allow Rusya Shukyurava and Alyaksei Budzko to do it? They could definitely send Hyunesh there.

On the other hand, the votes could be counted wrong. It happened in 2014 when Teo, Max Lourens, Dzyadzyulya and Sweater Boys were competing for the right to go to Eurovision. The voting results were miraculously made public and it help notice the mistake. The same could be done now. Is it a problem? 

This strange situation resembles those that were observed earlier. The main problem is the absence of transparency in the jury vote. Euroradio will keep monitoring the issue.