Eurovision threatens Ukraine

Russia will not be taking part in the Eurovision Song Contest this year, as a consequence of their invasion of Crimea.

Following the occupation of the peninsula, Ukraine ordered a travel ban on people who have been to Crimea via Russia. This prevents many artists who have performed in Crimea over the past three years from entering Ukraine – including Julia Samoylova, Russian contestant in this May’s song contest. The ban having been in place for several years, a provocative choice of Russian entry forced the political question on Ukraine of whether to vary its restriction on travel, and four weeks ago they announced they would not do so.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), makers of the show, have yesterday put out a statement declaring that Russia will not be taking part in the contest this year.

Following the official confirmation that Russian Eurovision entrant, Julia Samoylova, will not be permitted to travel to Kyiv to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest 2017, the EBU formally offered two alternative proposals to Channel One in a bid to find a solution that would enable Russia to continue their participation in this year’s event.

“These proposals were to either take part via satellite or to change their chosen artist to one who could legally travel to Ukraine for the duration of the Contest. Sadly both proposals have been rejected by Channel One and they have now announced they do not intend to broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. Unfortunately this means Russia will no longer be able to take part in this year’s competition. We very much wanted all 43 countries to be able to participate and did all we could to achieve this,” the EBU states.

Frank Dieter Freiling, Chairman of the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group, the event’s steering committee, said: “We strongly condemn the Ukrainian authorities’ decision to impose a travel ban on Julia Samoylova as we believe it thoroughly undermines the integrity and non-political nature of the Eurovision Song Contest and its mission to bring all nations together in friendly competition. However, preparations continue apace for the Eurovision Song Contest in the host city Kyiv. Our top priority remains to produce a spectacular Eurovision Song Contest with our Member UA:PBC in May.”

The 2017 Eurovision final is set to be broadcast on May 13th.