Ukraine blocks Russia’s Eurovision entry from attending contest in Kyiv
Ukraine has banned Russia’s Eurovision entry from the country ahead of the contest, because she has performed in Russian-occupied Crimea.
The Eurovision Song Contest begins in Ukrainian capital Kyiv on May 9, taking place in the country after the victory of Crimean Tartar singer Jamala in 2016.
There had been a question mark over Russia’s participation in the contest, given the ongoing conflict of the two countries in the east of Ukraine, and Russia’s annexation of Crimea, a southern peninsula still internationally regarded as part of Ukraine.
Earlier this month Russia picked wheelchair-bound singer Yulia Samoylova to represent them at the music contest in Kyiv.
However, controversy has now arisen over revelations that she has performed in Crimea since Russia’s occupation – and Ukraine today confirmed she will not be permitted to enter the country.
The BBC is today reporting that Ms Samoylova has been banned from Ukraine by the SBU security service.
People who have travelled to Crimea from Russia are routinely banned from visiting Ukraine, as they are considered to have illegally entered Ukrainian territory.
A European Broadcasting Union spokesperson said: “It has been confirmed to the EBU that the Ukrainian authorities have issued a travel ban on the Russian artist chosen for the Eurovision Song Contest, Julia Samoylova, as she has been judged to have contravened Ukrainian law by entering Crimea in order to perform.
“We have to respect the local laws of the host country, however we are deeply disappointed in this decision as we feel it goes against both the spirit of the Contest, and the notion of inclusivity that lies at the heart of its values.
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“We will continue a dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities with the aim of ensuring that all artists can perform at the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv in May.”
It is the latest controversy over the contest, which has been plagued with multiple delays and setbacks.
European Broadcasting Union execs previously threatened to pull the contest out of Kyiv over behind-the-scenes troubles, which has seen major decisions run months behind schedule.
21 staff from Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC recently walked out en masse – including executive producers, the event manager and head of security.
The European Broadcasting Union blamed “staffing matters” for the crisis, but the departing staff warned in an open letter that the contest was facing serious hurdles and that staff had been “completely blocked” from making any progress.
A decision to withdraw the contest from Ukraine was averted just months ago after the Ukrainian Parliament issued extra emergency funding to cover the cost of the contest, after delays on security, site preparation, set design, ticketing and transport.