Will Ukraine bar Russia’s Eurovision contestant?

Will Ukraine bar Russia’s Eurovision contestant?
(Image: Channel One Russia / YouTube)

13 March 2017

Just a day before the deadline, Russia has announced its entrant for this year’s Eurovision, bringing an end to speculation that the country would boycott the contest in Kiev on political grounds. Russia’s choice of contestant has, however, brought another scandal to a Eurovision already fraught with controversy.

Yuliya Samoylova is due to represent Russia in May at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest in Ukraine, performing the song Flame is Burning. Her attendance is now in jeopardy, after the singer openly stated that she has performed in Crimea since it was annexed by Russia in 2014.

Although Samoylova is not currently barred from Ukraine, this is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility. Ukraine’s SBU security service has already blacklisted 140 Russian artists, many for supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea. According to a Facebook post by SBU spokeswoman Olena Hitlyanska, the security organisation will now “study the question and take a balanced decision on [Samoylova’s] entry into Ukraine”.

“Undoubtedly, we would like to avoid politicising the Eurovision contest,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, denying that Russia’s choice of contestant was intended as a provocation.

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest has already been plagued by a number of obstacles, such as funding challenges and mass resignations. This latest development could feed into calls by a number of prominent Russian figures for Russia to pull out of the competition. These include MP Vitaly Milonov, who urged the head of Russia’s Channel One TV to boycott the show, claiming that “[t]he reality is that we will be unwelcome guests [...]”.

The 2017 Eurovision Song Contest final is due to take place on 13 May in Kiev, following the victory of Ukraine’s representative, Jamala, in the 2016 contest with the song 1944.

Source: BBC News