Swedish celeb’s Eurovision dare: ‘I wish Russia no good’

One of Sweden's most famous TV personalities has criticized Russia's Eurovision entry.

Swedish celeb's Eurovision dare: 'I wish Russia no good'
Mark Levengood has little love for Russia's Eurovision entry. Photo: Anders Wiklund/Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden and Russia have not been on the best of terms in the past few years, following news of secret submarine hunts, bizarre gay rights neon sailors and Russian spies allegedly operating on Swedish soil.

But Swedo-Finnish journalist Mark Levengood, who is an avid Eurovision fan and all-around known as the country's most famous gay man, has now taken the debate one step further.

“Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Eurovision this year is that there is some kind of media war between Sweden and Russia. They have appointed Sweden as an enemy and they are incredibly keen to beat Sweden at Eurovision,” he told Swedish Radio on Monday.

Sergey Lazarev, 33, and his song You Are The Only One, is one of the top favourites to win this year's Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Stockholm next month. But Levengood was clear that he would not be keeping his fingers crossed, despite admitting to liking the entry.

“I wish them no good, but have to reluctantly say that he is good and the song is good. It's going to be very dangerous,” he said.

It is not the first tense stand-off between Sweden and its eastern neighbour lately that centres around entertainment rather than intelligence or military.

Last week, Russia slammed Sweden for broadcasting a television series about its fictional takeover of Norway, saying it was tired of being portrayed as an aggressor.

In a strongly-worded statement on its Facebook page, the Russian Embassy in Stockholm wrote that “although the author of an artwork enjoys artistic freedom, this must not promote various forms of fear and instilling anti-Russian myths and prejudices”.

But the latest argument is not even the first linked to Eurovision.

In 2009, the Russian embassy launched a scathing attack on broadcaster SVT after it featured a parody video of Russia during a Melodifestivalen (Sweden's prequel to Eurovision) show. The segment included gangsters, tanks, stacking dolls and women showing a lot of flesh. 

Sweden's entry this year is 17-year-old Frans Jeppsson-Wall, with catchy pop hit If I Were Sorry. But the song has already, as tends to be Eurovision tradition, been accused of plagiarism. Check out his and Russia's entries below and decide for yourselves who your douze points go to.



Sweden among favourites after leaping through to Eurovision final

Cornelia Jakobs, Sweden's entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, burst into tears and jumped onto presenter Mario Acampas, after shooting through to the final on Thursday night.

Sweden among favourites after leaping through to Eurovision final

Jakobs was emotional at the press conference after her victory, telling the story of her progress from an “largely unknown” indie artist to the Eurovision stage. 

“There are a lot of feelings right now in this little body, an extremely large amount of feelings that can’t really fit in, so they’re exploding,” she said, before beginning to cry. “But I’m so happy and overwhelmed by all the support I’ve got from all these fantastic countries.” 

When the time came to pick lots for which half of the final she would appear in, she leapt onto Mario Acampas, the presenter asking questions at the press conference, wrapping her legs around his waist and clasping herself tightly to his torso. 

He then walked her over to the bowl where the lots were lying. 

“I want you to choose the second half,” she said to him. “Imagine that I have a pistol here and on the count of three I’m going to shoot you if you don’t choose.”

He refused to pick for her so she took one herself and got the second half. 

Jakobs, with her song, “Hold me closer”, was the clear favourite to go into the final, and will go through alongside Finland’s The Rasmus, and his song Jezebel, Serbia’s Konstrakta with “In corpore sano”, as well as entries from Belgium, Czechia, Azerbaijan, Poland, Estonia, Australia, and Romania. 

You can see her performance on Thursday in the video below. 

In the final, she will meet the other favourites, which include Ukraine, Italy, and the United Kingdom. 

The final will be shown on Sweden’s state broadcaster SVT at 9pm on Saturday.