Bilan Gets 2nd Shot at Eurovision

Itar-TassBilan
Pop star Dima Bilan will represent Russia at the Eurovision Song Contest in Belgrade in May after capturing the nomination for a second time.

Viewers and a professional jury chose Bilan's English-language ballad "Believe" over 26 other entries in the competition, which was broadcast live Sunday evening on Rossia television.

A tearful Bilan was shown sitting with his head in his hands after hearing he had won.

"Justice exists -- in a small way I am proof of that," Bilan said in an emotional acceptance speech. "I hope that the confidence you showed making your decision today will be rewarded."

Bilan also represented Russia at Eurovision in Athens in 2006, finishing second with the song "Never Let You Go." He was edged out by Finnish band Lordi, which dresses as monsters.

Bilan is currently involved in a legal dispute with the widow of his former producer, Yury Aizenshpis, over the rights to his music and his stage name. Bilan's real name is Viktor Belan.

"We don't see any obstacles to him going to Eurovision," Bilan's international manager, Sasha Tityanko, said Monday. Bilan recorded "Believe," written by Philadelphia-based songwriter Jim Beanz, 10 days ago in Miami, Florida, Tityanko said.

Viktor Baturin, the millionaire husband of Bilan's current producer, Yana Rudkovskaya, said last week that he had paid for the rights to all Bilan's songs and could bar him from taking part in Eurovision. "Baturin doesn't bar him simply as a good-will gesture," he told the Vzglyad newspaper, referring to himself in the third person.

Baturin has criticized Bilan for recording an English-language album with renowned U.S. producer Timbaland. He called Bilan "the chief black man in Russia" in October.

Russia has never won the Eurovision Song Contest. Bilan equaled Alsu's second place in 2000.