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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Vision of Europe

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It was amusing to watch the final round of the Eurovision Song Contest last weekend. The performers were nothing to write home about; they were good at best and at worst something on the border between rank amateurs and fledgling professionals.

Viewers pick the winner of Eurovision by texting in their votes, and they are not allowed to vote for the act representing their home countries. This caveat turns the contest into a curious sort of test of the popularity of the competing countries. Since viewers obviously also base their votes on the performers' talent and the quality of the songs -- total losers never walk away with the top prize -- the result is an entertaining mix of politics and show business.

The Russian girl group Serebro, or Silver, made a fair showing and deserved their third-place finish. The sexy trio received votes from across Europe, including Eastern Europe, where -- even judging by the reports on Russian television news -- the country's popularity is not exactly at an all-time high. Serebro was a favorite of viewers in the Balkans, Greece and Turkey. Belarus gave the group high marks, which isn't surprising. But so did Estonia, which seems incredible at first glance, since relations between Moscow and Tallinn have been severely strained in recent months. It may be that the votes from Estonia were cast by ethnic Russians living there, but Latvia, which has at least as many Russians as Estonia, didn't give the Russians a single point.

Serbia's Marija Serifovic won this year's contest with a ballad called "Molitva," or "A Prayer," which fit perfectly with the tone of recent news coverage of the country, which now looks certain to lose the province of Kosovo.

Second place went to precompetition favorite Verka Serdyuchka of Ukraine, a drag-queen character played by comedian Andriy Danilko. Listenting to Danilko's song, made up of an almost incomprehensible mix of English, Ukrainian and German phrases, you could clearly make out the phrase "Russia, goodbye."

After that, it wasn't hard to predict which countries would vote for Ukraine over Russia; most of what is known as the new Europe chose Danilko over Serebro.

One Eurovision contest isn't enough to tell us about Europe's emerging political and cultural preferences. But it does offer further evidence that Europe today is entirely different than it was just 15 to 20 years ago. In the near future, another change will take place almost everywhere in Eastern Europe: the removal or relocation of Soviet World War II monuments. The precedent set by Estonia will soon be followed not just in Poland, but in most former members of the old Eastern Bloc.

In his Victory Day speech, President Vladimir Putin said such actions amounted to "an attempt to revise the results of World War II." This formula has become popular with Russian diplomats. Generalities aside, however, what are the "results" of the war today? Europe is no longer split into two hostile camps. There can be no question of a revival of fascism in the countries conquered in the war, which have long been full-fledged and influential participants in Europe's political and economic life. Could the results of the war be nothing more than Soviet monuments and the list of the United Nation Security Council's permanent members.

In a recent editorial, the Kremlin-friendly magazine Expert proposed that Russia call for an all-European conference to review and bolster the results of the war. In my view, however, there is no place in diplomacy today for terms such as "the results of World War II."

In terms of the state of European countries in May 1945, the results of the war have already been revised in practice. And referring back to the results of the war contributes nothing to the efforts -- of both the victors and the vanquished, who in many ways have now switched places -- to build a new Europe.

Georgy Bovt is editor of Profil magazine.