They may not have won the Eurovision Song Contest this year, but the Buranovskiye Babushki have achieved one of the primary aims of their participation- improving life in Buranovo.
The New York Times has today run a special piece about ‘the Russian Grannies’, who scored 259 points this year in Baku. In appreciation of the group’s Eurovision result, the local government has started building a water pipeline, installing streetlights and high-speed Internet for the village’s only school as well as laying new gravel on the main roads.
“God forgot this place before the grannies sang,” Aleksandr Malkov told the New York Times. Olga Tyurikova, a neighbour who fed one of the grandmothers’ chickens during the Eurovision Song Contest said that the group has saved the village, stating: “If it weren’t for the babushki, nobody would ever have noticed there was no water in Buranovo”.
However, the main reason for the Buranovskiye Babushki’s Eurovision participation was to re-build a church in their village. The Church of the Trinity was closed in 1937, a similar fate to countless other churches in Stalin’s Russia. Twelve years later it was completely taken down by oil workers.
With the Grannies in Baku, work commenced on laying foundations for the church- financed by money in the growing fund that the Babushkis had raised. On their return from Baku, the Grannies were given a police escort from their local airport to see the construction has begun. “I had a vision that something would change in our village,” one of the Grannies, Alevtina Begisheva, 60, said. “But I never imagined we would return our church in this way.”
The Buranovskiye Babushki have also been visited more frequently, not least by schools from nearby towns and villages sending classes on trips to see them.
So whilst the song might not have been everyone’s cup of tea, it seems that this year’s Eurovision Song Contest entry from Russia has done everything and more of what it set out to do.