Eurovision 2015 organizers were prepared this week to use "anti-booing" technology if the audience heckled Russia's contestant. Coordinators for the annual international song competition told the Moscow Times that they'd installed sound reducers in case the crowd turns ugly after Polina Gagarina's performance. The new measure was a response to the 2014 contest, when Russia's Tolmachevy Twins were booed on stage for their nation's role in the ongoing Ukraine conflict, the Daily Mail reported.
"It was very embarrassing for us last year when this happened, as it is not in the spirit of the contest," Eurovision spokesman Jarmo Siim said. "We are here to build bridges, as the motto [of the contest] says."
Siim told the Moscow Times that "Plan A" was to employ normal sound during the broadcasts, which continue Thursday night with the second round of semifinals in Vienna. But Eurovision organizers had a "Plan B" if people start jeering at Gagarina or other contestants. They can drown out the boos, Siim said, declining to give specifics. "It is the first time we have prepared in this way. We want to be ready in all scenarios [but] we have high expectations that nothing like this will happen," he added.
Gagarina, a 28-year-old from Moscow, made it through semifinals on Tuesday and was scheduled to sing at Saturday's final show, Russia Beyond The Headlines reported. She performed "A Million Voices," which centers around peace. Its opening lines read, "We are the world's people / Different yet we're the same / We believe/ We believe in a dream / Praying for peace and healing / I hope we can start again."
Spectators were kind during her red carpet appearance, but took action when she was on stage, the Washington Post reported. People in the audience began waving rainbow-colored flags in protest of Russia's stance on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. Eurovision is seen as an LGBT-friendly contest, especially after drag queen Conchita Wurst's win last year.
Gagarina told reporters Tuesday that she was happy with the reception, the Moscow Times reported. "I just can say that my song is really about love and is really about that everybody is speaking one language — the language of love, and it is no different who you are," she said. "We are people and we can make bridges and I saw it today."
The Ukraine conflict has been going on for more than a year, with pro-government groups fighting pro-Russian separatists. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been accused of backing the rebels after Russia annexed Crimea last March.