Norway storms Eurovision Song Contest

Winner awarded highest score in show's history

MOSCOW -- Norway's Alexander Rybak won this year's Eurovision Song Contest, which came to a close in Moscow in the early hours of Sunday. The singer and violinist scored 387 points, a record figure in the event's history.

Audiences and professional juries in 15 countries out of the 42 voting in the contest gave the highest score, 12, to the 23-year-old Norwegian of Belarusian ancestry, who wrote his song, "Fairytale," by himself.

Icelandic singer Yohanna came in second with her song "Is It True?" with 218 points and Azeri duo AySel & Arash ended up in the third place with 207 points, followed by Turkey and the U.K. Lithuania, Spain and Finland were the least scoring countries, with 23, 23 and 22 points, respectively.

Rybak's victory didn't come as a surprise as many betting agencies predicted that he would be the main frontrunner even before the contest began. Igor Matviyenko, head of Russia's national jury, said he wished the vote was less predictable. "The choice was so obvious," he said.

The Norwegian entry's performance in the final received the most enthusiastic response from the 20,000 strong crowd gathered at the Olimpiysky sports center, as Rybak, who speaks fluent Russian, had been local audiences' darling since the beginning of the event. Meanwhile, Russia's entry, Ukrainian national Anastasia Prikhodko ended up in the 11th place.

"I won because I had a story to tell," the winner said at the press conference which was held right after the results of the country votes were announced and began with Rybak and his dancers dancing on the table and singing "Fairytale."

The Eurovision final featured several prominent figures. United Kingdom's entry, Jade Ewan, was accompanied on the piano by British composer and co-author of her contest song, Andrew Lloyd Webber, while the performance of Germany's Alex Swings Oscar Sings! featured American burlesque diva Dita von Tesse.

During the final, the Olympiysky audience witnessed plenty of typically bizarre Eurovision elements -- although with a bigger budget than usual -- from expensive stage machinery custom-made in Hong-Kong for Ukraine's entry, Svetlana Loboda, to extraordinary aerial and aquatic feats by the Argentinean theater "Fuerza Bruta."

Meanwhile, the event was overshadowed by the police's breaking up of an unsanctioned gay pride march in Central Moscow and detaining about 30 people just hours before the Eurovision final began, the Interfax wire service reported.

Earlier in the week, Eurovision's Dutch entry, "Gordon of De Toppers," threatened to boycott the final if violence was used against the gay event's participants, but didn't make it to the final.