New Wave song festival could switch to Crimea

The controversial New Wave Russian pop song contest, held annually in Jūrmala since 2002, seems destined to depart after organizer Igor Krutoy said he would find a new home for it by the year's end. 

Though it commands a wide audience across the countries of the former Soviet Union and undoubtedly brings money into the local economy - though quite how much is disputed - the staging of the event in Latvia has become increasingly contentious in recent years.

In 2008 a minor scandal was caused by a questionable rendering of the Latvian national anthem in the presence of then-President Valdis Zatlers.

A year later, planes landing at Riga International Airport had to be diverted when an aerobatic display took place for the benefit of New Wave guests in nearby Jūrmala without the knowledge of air traffic controllers.

Others simply dislike the fact that hundreds of rich Russians descend on Jūrmala in their private yachts and jets to indulge in sometimes ostentatious displays of wealth, or that it perpetuates memories of the Soviet era when Jūrmalā was a playground for the elite of the Communist Party.

This year, tensions came to a head in July when Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs refused entry to three singers due to perform at the event just days before they were due. He cited their support for Russia's annexation of Crimea as the reason, drawing howls of protest from Krutoy and other New Wave supporters.

The new contenders to host New Wave are Sochi, Baku, Kaliningrad, Kazan... and Crimea, Krutoy told the RIA Novosti news agency.

Latvian musical legend Raimonds Pauls, who helped establish the event, said it was the right decision for New Wave to go elsewhere.

"What can you do, given this whole situation that has been around the festival for several years... the end was to be expected because of the attitude here in Latvia. I'm not talking about the majority, but some people were quite negative... I think they've done the right thing. If you don't want it in Latvia, you don't want it," he said in comments reported by LSM.

"What does that - this whole situation, which has been around for several years festival ... Apparently, the end was to be expected, because the attitude here [Latvian], I'm not talking about the majority, but some people were quite negative," the message of invitation to the transfer of the Russian the media commented Raimonds Pauls. "I think they [the 'new wave' organizers] rightly. If you do not want to [Latvian], then do not."

Reaction to the news was greeted with jubilation by nationalist politicians with the National Alliance's Rihards Kols typical of the mood, calling the move "the best news of the day":

 

 

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