Eurovision 2018: Russia fails to qualify for Eurovision final

Ellen Stewart and Josh Jackman May 10, 2018
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Russia has failed to qualify for the Eurovision final for the first time in the history of the competition.

The country withdrew from the song contest last year but has made it through to the final every time it has competed.

Yulia Samoylova represented Russia in Lisbon for Eurovision in 2018. She was due to take to the stage at last year’s contest before the country withdrew from the competition entirely.


Host country Ukraine banned Samoylova from entering the country in 2017 – meaning Russia was absent from the stage.

The Ukrainian security services, SBU, said that the singer-songwriter had violated Ukrainian law with a 2015 performance she had given in Crimea in 2014.

According to the Radio Times, Ukrainian MP Oleksandr Brygynets said Russia was “hiding behind a disabled person,” when Samoylova was announced as the country’s entrant.

Eurovision tensions initially started between the two nations in 2014 when Vladimir Putin signed a law formalising Russia’s takeover of Crimea from Ukraine despite sanctions from the EU and the US.

The events of 2014 were reportedly referenced in Ukraine’s 2016 Eurovision entry “1944” – with lyrics including: “When strangers are coming/They come to your house/They kill you all.”

LGBT Rights in Russia

People wave gay rights' movement rainbow flags during the gay pride rally in Saint Petersburg, on August 12, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / OLGA MALTSEVA (Photo credit should read OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images)
A gay pride rally in (Getty)

Hate crimes against LGBT people have doubled since Russia created a law banning gay “propaganda”.

The 2013 legislation, which prohibits “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” towards minors, has been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights.

The European judges found that the law “reinforced stigma and prejudice and encouraged homophobia”.

The law also bans people from sharing “distorted ideas about the equal social value of traditional and non-traditional sexual relationships”.

It has been widely abused by Vladimir Putin’s government to clamp down on the LGBT rights movement as a whole.

And now the ECHR has been backed up by statistics, with researchers finding that anti-LGBT hate crimes have doubled.

The Centre for Independent Social Research analysed 250 crimes – 200 of which were murders – and concluded that homophobic attacks had surged, according to the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Most victims were gay men.
The amount of sentences for crimes against LGBT people has increased too, from 18 in 2010 to 65 in 2015.

Svetlana Zakharova, a board member at the Russian LGBT Network, said people inclined to attack sexual and gender minorities “have become more aggressive and less fearful.

A participant from Russia waves a Russian flag during Berlin's annual Christopher Street Day (CSD) gay pride parade on July 22, 2017. Gays and lesbians all around the World are celebrating the Christopher Street Day (CSD) gay and lesbian pride parade. / AFP PHOTO / John MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

She explained: “It seems to them that, to some extent, the government supports their actions.

“Many perpetrators openly talk about their crimes as noble deeds,” she added, terrifyingly.

Her group has performed actual heroic deeds this year, having saved at least 40 Chechens from the gay purge being committed in the region.

(Facebook/russian lgbt network)

The activists set up a helpline for gay men in Chechnya, then found the gay men and helped them escape the region before they were killed in the purge.

And in August, Russian LGBT Network campaigner Anna Grabetskaya was detained by police at the St Petersburg Pride march.

She was holding a sign that read “I love my wife” and had a rainbow flag wrapped around her.

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Tajikistan's President Emomali Rakhmon (Getty)
Russian President Vladimir Putin with Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rakhmon, who has also overseen anti-LGBT operations (Getty)

Russia came second-bottom in Europe’s latest LGBT rights rankings – to Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan is guilty of instituting its own LGBT purge, detaining and torturing at least 100 gay and trans people to force them to give up other LGBT people.

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