Russia wins 2008 Eurovision Song Contest in Belgrade
Ukraine placed second with Ani Lorak and the song Shady Lady, and Greece was third with Kalomira's song Secret Combination.
Belgrade -- Russian Dima Bilan won the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest late Saturday in Belgrade with the song Believe in the first triumph for Russia in more than half a century of the Eurosong.
Ukraine placed second with Ani Lorak and the song Shady Lady, and Greece was third with Kalomira's song Secret Combination. The 2007 winners and hosts Serbia were sixth with Jelena Tomasevic's song Oro.
Belgrade, which hosted the largest-ever Eurosong contest of 43 nations, was praised for flawless organization, both in the packed, 16,000-seat arena and downtown, where thousands of people watched the contest on a huge video screen.
Ukraine, Croatia, Albania, Iceland, Georgia, Denmark, Sweden, Latvia, Turkey, Portugal Greece, Romania, Bosnia, Finland, Russia, Israel, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Poland and Norway qualified through the two semi-finals of the mammoth show.
In line with new rules introduced this year, the "big four" - Great Britain, France, Germany and Spain - who bear the largest part of financing the competition, qualified directly, as did last year's winner and host, Serbia.
The practice of awarding top points - 12, 10 and eight for the first three places -- to countries from the region, which favors Balkan, Nordic and former Soviet countries, largely continued in the 53rd Eurovision Song Contest.