Russia Launches Alternative to Eurovision After Drag Queen Wins

Country's defense ministry is behind one contest, while another will take place in Sochi this fall

Conchita Wurst eurovision
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Conchita Wurst
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Russia is actually acting on their outrage over Eurovision's bearded drag queen champion, Conchita Wurst, with the defense ministry staging their own song contest, which they're calling, "an alternative to bearded Eurovision," Billboard reports.

The final round of the defense ministry's competition will take place on Monday night, while another international competition, Intervision, is scheduled to take place in Sochi this fall. Qualification rounds are set to start next month in Yalta, a resort town on the Black Sea that's part of the Crimean territory recently annexed by Russia. The Intervision announcement came with a caveat from local music producer Igor Matvienko, who suggested that all those who want to represent Russia should shave their beards.

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Russian officials were quick to denounce Wurst during Eurovision, with Vitaly Milonov — a conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg who penned the city's notorious anti-gay laws in 2012 — even asking Russia's Eurovision organizing committee to boycott future contests. "The participation of apparently transvestite and hermaphrodite Conchita Wurst on the same stage as Russian artists live on TV is blatant propaganda of homosexuality and moral degradation," Milonov wrote.

After Wurst — a 25-year-old Austrian whose off-stage name is Thomas Neuwirth — won Eurovision with her Bond-esque ballad, "Rise Like a Phoenix," Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin tweeted, "Eurovision showed European integrators their Euro-prospect — a bearded girl."

Despite all the criticism that followed Wurst throughout the competition, the singer kept her head held high and delivered a powerful message after taking home Eurovision's top honors: "This night is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are — we are unity and we are unstoppable."