Russia has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 19 times since their debut in 1994 and has participated every year since 2000. Russia won the 2008 contest with Dima Bilan performing the song "Believe". Russia has also finished second in the contest four times, with Alsou in 2000, Dima Bilan in 2006, Buranovskiye Babushki in 2012, and Polina Gagarina in 2015. As of 2015, Russia, along with Sweden, holds the record for the most top five finishes in the 21st Century, with a total of eight.
Russia, along with Romania and Greece, has never missed a final since the introduction of the semi-finals in 2004.[note 1]
In 1996, Russia's entry was Andrey Kosinski with the song "Me is me", but on the eve of competition (for the second time in its history), he scored an insufficient number of points in a special qualifying round and therefore missed the final.
In 1998, because Russia did not participate in the contest (due to lower average scores in participating in previous competitions), Russia refused to broadcast the competition and the European Broadcasting Union in return forbade the country to participate the following year. According to unconfirmed information, Russia was required to submit Tatyana Ovsiyenko with the song "My Sun".
Since the introduction of the semi-finals, Russia is, along with Ukraine, Greece and Romania, one of the four countries left that has never missed a final. Azerbaijan has also never missed a final, but due to the fact Azerbaijan debuted after the semi-final introduction, Azerbaijan is not counted as one of these countries.
Russia won their first Eurovision Song Contest in 2008, when Dima Bilan, participating for the second time in the contest, won with the song "Believe", bringing the contest to Russia for 2009.
Russia was the most successful country in Eurovision in 2000-2009, with one win, two second places, and two third places. However, in 2010 they finished 11th, and in 2011 they were 16th, which was the worst place for Russia since 1995. Interest in the competition fell, but in 2012 Buranovskiye Babushki finished in second place, increasing Russia's interest in the show. Russia holds the record for the most top five finishes in the 21st century, with eight, most recently with Polina Gagarina, who was second in 2015 with 302 Points which is the highest score of a non-winning entry in Eurovision history.
The contest has been broadcast irregularly on two different public state channels in Russia, both EBU members: for the 1994 and 1996 it was broadcast on Russia-1, while in 1995, 1997 and from 1999 to 2007 the contest was broadcast on Channel One. Since 2008, there is an alternation on broadcast, with Russia-1 on even years, and Channel One on odd ones.
a. ^ In 1996 Russia failed to qualify from the audio only pre-qualification round. The official Eurovision site does not count 1996 in Russia's total list of appearances.
b. ^ Russia was forced to sit out another year in 1999, as the EBU only allows countries which had broadcast the previous year's contest to enter the next year's contest.
c. If a country won the previous year, they did not have to compete in Semi Finals. In addition, back in 2005-2007, countries who done well did not have to compete in Semi Finals the following year. The top ten non-Big four along with the Big four countries automatically qualified, for example, if Germany and France placed inside the top 10, the 11th and 12th spots were advanced to next year's Grand Final along with everyone within the top 10.
^The "Big Five" (United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain and Germany) are not counted in this list since they receive automatic qualification to the final. Neither is Azerbaijan, that has qualified every year they have competed, but debuting four years after the introduction of the semifinals.