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Breaking the wall Russia’s Manizha progresses to Eurovision final with her song ‘Russian Woman’

Source: Meduza
Sander Koning / Pool / EPA / Scanpix / LETA

Russian-Tajik singer Manizha, who is representing Russia at Eurovision 2021, has progressed to the song competition’s final stage with her song “Russian Woman.” Her performance in Rotterdam on May 19 ended with a video featuring more than 100 Russian women, including a number of well-known public figures. Manizha said she wanted her performance to “show the freedom” of Russian women. The Eurovision final will take place on Saturday, May 22.

On May 19, Russia’s Eurovision contestant — singer Manizha — performed at the semi-finals in Rotterdam and made it through to the competition’s final stage with her song “Russian Woman” (the very track that Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko criticized as “some kind of nonsense”). 

Manizha’s nomination as Russia’s Eurovision entry was met with a wave of xenophobic backlash online over her Tajik roots. But this didn’t stop her from giving a strong performance in the semi-finals and progressing to the final, as you can see in the video below.

Eurovision Song Contest

Manizha’s song is dedicated to Russian women and their strength. The lyrics, which are partly in Russian and partly in English, also poke fun at society’s expectations with satirical lines like, “You’re already over 30, hello, where are your kids? / You’re beautiful on the whole, but you could lose weight.” Prior to her Eurovision performance, Manizha changed some of the lyrics, replacing the phrase “Every Russian woman needs to know / You’re strong enough to bounce against the wall” with “Every Russian woman needs to know /You’re strong enough you’re gonna break the wall.

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A Russian Woman Russia’s 2021 pick for Eurovision Song Contest provokes a stream of xenophobic comments online

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A Russian Woman Russia’s 2021 pick for Eurovision Song Contest provokes a stream of xenophobic comments online

At the end of her Eurovision performance, dozens of videos appeared on the screen behind the singer showing Russian women singing along with Manizha. Among them were Novaya Gazeta journalist Elena Kostyuchenko, blogger and model Semmi Djabrail, the founder of the Hospice Charity Fund “Vera” Nyuta Federmesser, actress Chulpan Khamatova, journalist Katerina Gordeeva, artist Sasha Frolova, Doxa magazine editor Alla Gutnikova, and many others. The video included more than 100 women. 

Manizha described her idea for the performance as follows:

“If you have a question about why I can sing about Russian women and whether I’m the voice of Russian women. I decided to invite more than 100 Russian women on stage, they will go to Eurovision with me. They will appear on those screens, they will sing the way they want, they will look the way they want, and they will do what they want. I really want to show their freedom.”

“It seems to me that in modern times, no one has done so much for the inner self-awareness of Russian women as Manizha,” journalist Katerina Gordeeva wrote on Facebook following Manizha’s Eurovision performance.

“Mama, I’m at Eurovision”

Manizha was the third performer among 16 contestants in the first semi-final. The contestants from Norway, Israel, Azerbaijan, Malta, Lithuania, Cyprus, Sweden, Belgium, and Ukraine have also progressed to the final stage. You can check out a few of these striking performances below.

Lithuania: A “Discotheque” in yellow suits

Eurovision Song Contest

Norway: A “Fallen Angel” in gold chains

Eurovision Song Contest

Ukraine: A rave in the woods

Eurovision Song Contest

Malta: More girl power!

Eurovision Song Contest

Belgium: Slow dancing in “The Wrong Place”

Eurovision Song Contest

The Eurovision 2021 second semi-final will take place Thursday, May 20. The song competition’s final is set to take place on Saturday, May 22.

Read more about Manizha

One of the greats Russian-Tajik singer Manizha is headed for Eurovision 2021. Here’s how her music has evolved over the years.

Read more about Manizha

One of the greats Russian-Tajik singer Manizha is headed for Eurovision 2021. Here’s how her music has evolved over the years.

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Story by Natalya Gredina

Translated and abridged by Eilish Hart

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