For the 2008 Contest, Rossiya Channel (RTR) was responsible for the selection of the Russian entry, opting to organize a national final. On 8 December 2007, RTR announced a submission period for interested artists and composers to submit their entries from 15 December 2007 until the deadline on 1 February 2008.
On 16 February 2008, RTR held a press conference to confirm details regarding the national selection. A jury panel was assembled to select 25 entries from the submissions to compete in the national final. RTR announced it would produce a documentary about the national final and that Muz-TV and Love Radio would follow the preparations of the participants through special diary presentations. On 25 February 2008, RTR revealed the list of 25 entries that had been selected from 167 submissions. Among the competitors were former Russian entrants Dima Bilan (2006) and Premyer-Ministr (2002). On 4 March 2008, an additional two entries were added to the 25 entries previously announced, with former Belarusian entrant Polina Smolova (2006) among them.
Dima Bilan (centre) with Edvin Marton (left) and Evgeni Plushenko (right) at the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 in Belgrade.
With changes to the format of the Eurovision Song Contest coming into effect in 2008, Russia was required to compete in one of two semi-finals in order to qualify to compete in the final. In the allocation draw on 28 January 2008, Russia was drawn to compete in the first semi-final on 20 May 2008. On 17 March 2008 during the draw for running order, Russia was drawn to receive the third of three wildcards for the first semi-final, allowing the Russian head of delegation to select the starting position for the nation. Russia chose to perform 18th in the first semifinal, following Romania and preceding Greece.
Bilan was joined on stage by figure skaterEvgeni Plushenko, who performed on a mobile ice rink placed on stage specifically for the Russian performance, and violinistEdvin Marton, who performed with a Stradivarius. Russia qualified from the first semi-final, placing 3rd and scoring 135 points. During the winners' press conference following the conclusion of the first semi-final broadcast, Russia was drawn to perform 24th in the final following Serbia and preceding Norway. Russia won the 2008 Contest placing 1st and scoring 272 points. As the winning nation of the 2008 Contest and the host of the forthcoming contest, Russia pre-qualified to compete in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2009.
The first semi-final and final were broadcast on Rossiya 1, with commentary by Dmitriy Guberniyev and Olga Shelest. The voting spokesperson for Russia was Oxana Fedorova.