The Ukrainian government said on 9 September 2016 that it would deny entry into the country to blacklisted Russian singers competing for the 62nd Eurovision contest set to take place in capital Kiev in May 2017 if they are found to support the separatist cause stemming from Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, reported Reuters on 9 September 2016.
Ukraine’s culture minister Yevhen Nyshchuk said that Russia has many “decent artists who understand that peace is the most important thing” and that the artists chosen to compete in the song contest “should speak only a professional language of songs and music”, rather than a “language of aggression”.
“Russia is able to find out about these people [blacklisted artists] and if they knowingly push these people to win [in local contests], this would obviously be a provocation,” Nyshchuk said.
According to EuroVisionary, a news source dedicated to the song contest, the Ministry of Culture has recently blacklisted 10 Russian singers whose work will be banned on Ukrainian TV, radio and in cinemas. Those artists include: Mikhail Boyarskiy, Yulia Chicherina, Oleg Gazmanov, Iosif Kobzon, Lev Leschenko, Grigoriy Leps, Stas Piekha, Sergey Penkin, Nikolay Rastorguev, Aleksandr Rozenbaum and Valeria Rerfilova, reported the source on 10 September 2016.
Conflict over Crimea creates artistic limbo
The Russia-Ukraine conflict that began in 2014, leading to the contested sovereignty of Crimea, has left artists caught in the middle of a political struggle. Artists who have performed, or plan to perform, in Crimea, or who are seen as sympathetic to either side’s position has left their works and performances banned from being heard, screened or attended in either country.
In February 2016, Belarusian singer Max Korzh was denied entry into Ukraine for a five-city tour because of performances he made in Crimea in 2014. In January 2016, Italian opera singer Alessandro Safina cancelled two scheduled performances in Crimea as the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture was prepared to cancel his other dates in the country if he went through with the shows in the disputed territory.
In the spring of 2014, Ukrainian band Okean Elzi and Belarusian band Lyapis Trubetskoy had their concerts cancelled in Russia as they were both seen as sympathetic to the Ukrainian movement.
In April 2016, Ukraine also banned all Russian films and tv series released since 2014 from being screened in the country, as an amendment to its 2015 Law on Cinematography that already banned Russian military genre films. Also in early 2016, Ukraine’s National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting removed 15 Russian TV channels from its broadcasting providers.
» Deutsche Welle – 19 September 2016:
Eurovision host Kyiev to exclude blacklisted Russian singers
» NRK Nyheter – 11 September 2016:
ESC racket in full swing – Ukraine will exclude certain Russian artists
» EuroVisionary – 10 September 2016:
Ukraine confirms Russian artists still banned from entering 2017 Eurovision
» Reuters – 9 September 2016:
Ukraine to bar some Russian singers after Kiev chosen to host Eurovision
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