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    Turkey's 'Deli' seventh in Eurovision song contest

    Hurriyet English with wires
    25.05.2008 - 10:11 | Son Güncelleme:

    Turkey's Mor ve Otesi ranked seventh with its song 'Deli' in the 53rd Eurovision Song Contest 2008 in Belgrade on Saturday as the Russian pop singer Dima Bilan won the contest with the ballad "Believe".

    Bilan won 272 points from viewers from 43 countries who picked the winner by phone calls and text messages, as Turkish band Mor ve Otesi got 138 points.

    The victory by Bilan, who performed alongside Olympic figure skating champion Yevgeny Plushenko, was Russia’s first in the pan-European event watched by more than 100 million television viewers around the world.  

    "I want to remember this day as the most beautiful day because of this Eurovision contest," the beaming 26-year-old told a press conference, before thanking his team including top US musicians.

    "We believed in each other, each member of the team took a risk and it wasn’t in vain. We won, a dream can become the truth," he said, proudly clutching Eurovision 2008s crystal microphone trophy.

    His song "Believe" is a ballad written by US producer Jim Beanz with help from super-producer and rapper Timbaland, also from the United States.

    One of the favorites before the contest, it had been level in the vote count with leggy, energetic rivals from Greece and Ukraine -- Kalomira and Ani Lorak -- until final votes came in from former communist bloc nations.

    In the end, Bilan, a pop star with a huge fan base in Russia and other former Soviet countries, collected a total 272 points, leaving behind Ukraine on 230 and Greece on 218.

    Such "bloc voting" has proved controversial in recent years, denying a shot at glory for western European nations like Britain, France, Germany and Spain -- the shows biggest financial backers.

    British soul singer Andy Abrahams finished joint last with another glamorous female soloist, Isis Gee of Poland, on a mere 14 points.

    French electro-pop producer Sebastien Tellier, whose song "Divine" sparked controversy in his homeland because most of its lyrics were in English, did only slightly better, picking up 47 points.

    Under pressure, the organizers of Eurovision had modified the glitzy 53-year-old contest by introducing two semi-finals to end the controversial practice of some nations repeatedly vote for each other.

    But Bilan’s win avenges his second-place showing two years ago, when he lost out to Finnish heavy metal band Lordi which surprisingly claimed Eurovision with their song "Hard Rock Hallelujah."

    He was joined for his performance by Hungarian violinist Edvin Marton and the ice-skating champion Plyushchenko, who pirouetted on artificial ice in the packed Belgrade Arena.

    The Eurovision song contest is often derided in western European media for its mix of kitsch glamour and oddball talent, but enjoys widespread popularity in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.

    Among the more colorful entries were Irelands purple-beaked glove puppet named "Dustin the Turkey" which was culled at the semi-final stage.

    Belgium’s Ishtar, whose song was entirely composed of meaningless words, suffered the same fate.

    Eurovision has however unearthed some acts that have gone on to secure world-wide acclaim in the past, such as Sweden’s Abba, Britain’s Cliff Richard and songstress Celine Dion, who won for Switzerland in 1988.

    Its 2008 edition featured a record 43 countries, and was held in the Serbian capital Belgrade because their contestant, Marija Serifovic, had won in Finland last year with her ballad "Molitva."

    The event came two weeks after tense general elections and following Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia, which sparked anti-Western riots that included an attacks on European Union embassies.

    Eurovision has a traditionally large gay following, and many of those among the estimated 15,000 visitors were also concerned about a possible repeat of a 2001 hooligan attack on the Serbian capitals first "Gay Parade."

    Photo: AA

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