Ukraine: Russian Eurovision contestant banned over performance in Crimea

29 March 2017

Ukraine’s security service has banned Russian singer Julia Samoilova from entering the country for the next three years due to her giving a performance in Crimea in 2015, thus not allowing her to compete in European song contest Eurovison taking place in capital Kiev in May 2017, reported BBC on 22 March 2017.

Geneva-based Eurovision organiser European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has gotten involved in the issue attempting to broker a compromise between the two nations, but so far has been unsuccessful.

The latest compromise involved the singer performing via satellite, which the EBU called an “unprecedented move … in the contest’s 60-year history”, reported The Guardian on 23 March 2017.

In a statement to Billboard on 27 March 2017, Russia’s Channel One, the network in charge of selecting the country’s contestant, said such a compromise would go “against the very essence of the event, one of the rules of which reads that the song should be performed live on stage”.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Vyacheslav Kirilenko tweeted: “A broadcast of Samoilova’s performance by Ukrainian networks would violate the Ukrainian law just the same as her entry into Ukraine.”

Kirilenko has said that “Russia can resolve the issue by entering a participant who does not have problems with Ukrainian law”, but Russian officials have said they won’t replace the singer.

The EBU has said they are “deeply disappointed” by the events, but “will continue to ensure that Russia can participate in the show”.

Conflict over Crimea creates artistic limbo
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 if they are found to support the separatist cause stemming from Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

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 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.

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