Russia's Dina Garipova performs during the final of the 2013 Eurovision song contest. Photograph: John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images
Russia's foreign minister has taken time out of a busy schedule that includes defending arms sales to Syria and criticising US policy around the world to wade into a growing scandal over the Eurovision song contest.
Sergei Lavrov issued a stern warning over the contest on Tuesday following reports that the Russian contestant, Dina Garipova, had been deprived of 10 points allegedly issued by the country's ex-Soviet ally Azerbaijan.
"That 10 points were stolen from our contestant during the Eurovision 2013 contest does not make us happy regarding the organisation of the event," Lavrov said during a joint press conference with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov. "The outrageous action at Eurovision regarding the Russian contestant will not go unanswered," he warned.
Garipova, who sang a ballad called What If, finished fifth with 174 points in the contest's final in Sweden on Saturday. She was 17 points behind fourth-placed Margaret Berger of Norway, so the extra 10 points would not have made any difference in the overall ranking.
Mammadyarov said on Tuesday that "a significant part of the Azeri population voted for the Russian singer", and said a full investigation would be carried out to see where the "stolen votes" went.
Azerbaijan's ambassador to Moscow, the renowned Soviet-era crooner Polad Bülbüloğlu , told Russian television that it was impossible that Garipova had not scored any points in his country. In its own voting, Russia gave the Azerbaijani entry the maximum 12 points.
The gaudy Eurovision song contest is known for its highly politicised voting, particularly as it has grown in popularity in eastern Europe and Russia, where the event is taken very seriously.
A fan of competition and eager to show off its global standing, Russia has evidenced growing love of Eurovision since the pop star Dima Bilan won the event in 2008. That same year Ireland sent a turkey puppet to compete in the event.
This year Denmark's Emmelie de Forest won with 281 points for her song Only Teardrops, well ahead of Azerbaijan's Farid Mammadov who came second.