Russian officials have denounced Eurovision Song Contest winner Conchita Wurst, a bearded drag queen, with one even asking the culture ministry to ban the singer from touring Russia, Billboard reports.
Wurst, a 25-year-old Austrian whose off-stage name is Thomas Neuwirth, took home Eurovision’s top honors on Saturday with her Bond-esque ballad “Rise Like a Phoenix”; but her victory message promoting unity and acceptance had no effect on Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who tweeted: “Eurovision showed European integrators their Euro-prospect — a bearded girl.”
Elsewhere, Vitaly Milonov, a conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg, suggested that Russians no longer compete in Eurovision alongside singers like Wurst. Milonov is notorious for penning St. Petersburg’s anti-gay laws in 2012, which criminalized the “propaganda” of homosexuality towards minors, and as such he unsuccessfully tried to cancel the Russian broadcast of Eurovision on those grounds.
He also sent a letter to the Russian Eurovision organizing committee asking them to boycott future contests, writing: “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 also asked Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky to stop Wurst from performing in Russia, saying that letting her into the country “would be more than criminal negligence.” In a statement though, the culture ministry responded, “Banning bearded women or men from visiting Russia is outside the competence of the culture ministry.”
While negativity surrounded Wurst throughout the competition, with organizations in Armenia and Belarus, as well as Russia, circulating petitions to block her from competing, the Eurovision winner had this message for Russian President Vladimir Putin: “I don’t know if he is watching this now, but if so, I’ll say it: ‘We’re unstoppable.'”