• Russia's Sergey Lazarev at Eurovision 2016 (Photo by Andres Putting for EBU) (EBU)
As Eurovision 2016 heads into the Grand Final, UK tabloids have printed claims that fan favourite Sergey Lazarev of Russia has a secret past in porn after controversial photos of him emerged online showing him naked, holding a saw to the throat of a woman tied to a radiator.
By
Genevieve Dwyer

15 May 2016 - 7:45 AM  UPDATED 15 May 2016 - 7:45 AM

The original source of the photos is unknown but it's reported that the Kremlin has been trying to cover up the embarrassing leaked pictures which emerged online just as Lazarev and fellow competing nations headed into the 2016 Eurovision Grand Final.

The UK's Sun quotes an anonymous source claiming that Russian officials hired computer experts in an attempt to wipe all trace of the photo, which at first glance appears to be some kind of fetish pornography, from the internet.

The Russian Eurovision camp however has dismissed claims of a secret porn past, playing down the pictures by stating that they were actually part of an ANTI-domestic violence campaign.

"We would like to underline that this photo shoot was made by a famous Russian photographer against domestic violence," a spokesperson for Lazarev told the UK's Metro.

"Several Russian stars had similar artistic photo shooting for the exhibition ‘Stars against violence and rudeness’ that took place in 31/10/2008 and all money collected from the sales of these portraits went to the victims of the above mentioned cases."

Nonetheless,  British tabloids were keen to paint the photo as an embarrassing leak that would jeopardise Russia's Eurovision chances. 

“The picture of the girl handcuffed was supposed to be arty and highlight domestic violence issues but it looks like they are glamorising it," the Sun quotes an anonymous source as saying. 

“Officials don’t want this photo getting out because it looks so weird and creepy and could scupper their bid.

“Russia has spent an absolute fortune on Sergey, it is really desperate to win this year."

Even if the photos are perfectly innocuous, their emergence is just the latest in a series of unfortunate mishaps for Lazarev and the Russian camp in their road to Eurovision.

The former-gymnast turned popstar who is a best-selling huge star in his home country shocked fans when he suddenly fainted mid-performance while playing a major gig in St Petersburg just two weeks out from Eurovision.

Watch: Shock moment Eurovision favourite PASSES OUT mid-performance
Russia's 2016 Eurovision entrant Sergey Lazarev shocked fans as he appeared to suddenly faint mid-performance at a concert in St Petersburg on the weekend.

In dress rehearsals Lazarev took another tumble - literally - when he fell off his elaborate moving set.

Russian favourite FALLS OFFSTAGE at day one of Eurovision rehearsals
Russian artist Sergey Lazarev, has suffered an embarrassing blow on the first day of official rehearsals in Stockholm, taking a major tumble NINE FEET off his elaborate set.

In spite of the various mishaps though, Russia remained a firm favourite in the international betting odds, right up until the day before, where Lazarev ranked in first place, just ahead of our own Dami Im.

Watch Lazarev's performance in Semi Final 1 below:

Read more from Eurovision
Dami Im "Blown Away" after incredible performance at Eurovision Semi Final 2
Dami Im blew everyone away with her incredible performance of 'Sound of Silence' at Semi Final 2 of Eurovision in Stockholm today.
The top ten moments of Eurovision 2016 Semi Final 2
Recapping the most memorable moments of the second Semi Final of Eurovision 2016.
Comment: Sorry Graham Norton, but Australia's participation in Eurovision is not "stupid"
Britain's Eurovision presenter Graham Norton says it's "kind of stupid" that Australia is in Eurovision Song Contest. Here writer, academic, Aussie and lifelong Eurovision fan Jess Carniel responds to the criticism.