Putin wants song contest with allies

Russian Prime Minister said it would boost cultural ties

MOSCOW -- Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin suggested on Wednesday that China, Central Asian nations and Russia should hold a song competition to boost cultural ties.

Putin said the joint song competition could be called "Intervision" to rival the annual Eurovision Song Contest.

Such an event would see Chinese crooners competing for a prize with Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kazakhs, Russians and Kyrgyz.

"Conducting an international modern song contest, Intervision, would strengthen cultural ties between our nations," Interfax news agency quoted Putin as telling a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) heads of government in Beijing.

It was not immediately clear whether Iran, India, Mongolia and Pakistan, which have (SCO) observer status would take part.

The annual Eurovision contest started in 1956 and reaches a TV audience of some 100 million, despite its reputation in many countries as a celebration of kitsch. Moscow hosted the 2009 contest in May.