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BAKU, May 23 (Itar-Tass) — The first semifinal of the Eurovision-2012 song contest began at the Crystal Hall here on Tuesday. The show is broadcast to 46 countries for an audience of 100 million televiewers.
The Russian folk song group Buranovskiye Babushki (Buranovo Grannies) is also participating in the contest. Along with the Russian folk singers, a place in the finals is being contested by representatives of another 17 countries: Montenegro, Iceland, Greece, Latvia, Albania, Romania, Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, Israel, San Marino, Cyprus, Denmark, Hungary, Austria, Moldova, and Ireland. Ten finalists are to be named on the strength of the viewers' and the jury's voting.
The second semifinal is to be held on May 24 to determine another ten finalists. The finals of the song contest will see performances by representatives of 26 countries, including those from the five Eurovision founding countries -- Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain -- which automatically qualify for the finals, as well as Azerbaijan as the host country.
Noone has any doubt that the Buranovo Grannies with their song "Party for Everybody" will qualify for the finals: the Russian performing group is one of indisputable favourites at the contest. Almost throughout the week that preceded the Eurovision-2012, the group remained in the lead as a result of interactive voting among members of fan clubs and journalists.