Banned from the Eurovision Song Contest for an anthem that mocked Russiaís Prime Minister, the Georgians have hit back by organising a song festival of their own.
The organisers of Alter/Vision have invited pop groups from all over Europe to participate in their rival event, which will take place at the same time as the Eurovision final in Moscow on May 16. It is an impertinent response to the ruling that the
original Eurovision entry, a disco song performed by Stephane and 3G entitled We Donít Wanna Put In ó a play on the name of Vladimir Putin ó was too political.
Georgian Public Television, which held the national contest, was asked to revise the lyrics or submit an alternative. Instead, it withdrew from Eurovision, complaining that organisers had bowed to unacceptable pressure from Russia.
The Georgian Ministry of Culture is backing the alternative festival, to be held in the capital, Tbilisi, from May 15-17. Organisers said that it would feature 20 acts from nine countries, including Britain, France, Germany and Russia, but that there
would be no voting to choose a winner.
Itís our moral support to the people who were supposed to sing at Eurovision but wonít be there, a spokesman, Irakli Matkava, said: We want to express true European values of freedom and fun. Eurovision is about bureaucratic control and
censorship. Itís more about a countryís prestige than music.