Ukraine’s Eurovision entry quits over visit to Russian-occupied Crimea
Ukraine’s Eurovision entry Alina Pash has withdrawn over claims surrounding her visit to Russian-occupied Crimea in 2015
Pash, 28, was set to represent Ukraine at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in May.
The country’s national broadcaster UA:PBC “suspended” the signing of her contract, the BBC reported on Tuesday (15 February), over allegations that she visited Crimea under falsified documents.
There are strict rules in place about visiting the region, with foreigners only permitted to visit through official land checkpoints. Under Ukrainian law it is illegal to travel to Crimea via Russia.
Announcing her withdrawal Wednesday (16 February), Alina Pash denied any wrongdoing.
“I am a citizen of Ukraine, I abide by the laws of Ukraine and I try to spread Ukrainian traditions and values to the world,” she wrote on Instagram.
In an earlier statement to the BBC, Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC said it was “expecting the response of the State Border Guard Service” to “confirm the validity of the document” Pash provided explaining how she travelled to Crimea.
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Pash told the BBC that some have accused her of being un-Ukrainian due to the controversy.
“I’m a Ukrainian girl. I’m talking in Ukrainian and my song is about Ukraine,” she said. There is no way that I can be against it.
The controversy comes as fears mount of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The two countries have been at war with each other since 2014, however tensions have increased after Russia deployed tens of thousands of troops to its border with Ukraine in late January.
Both the UK and the US have evacuated embassy staff from Kyiv, while Western allies are drawing up sanctions against Russia if the country does invade.
Ukrainian activists have stated that they will try their hardest to fight, amid fears that in the event of a Russian invasion, progress on LGBT+ rights could be stripped back.
Pash said in light of rising tensions, it is “very hard to stay positive and calm”.
She told the BBC: “I believe in my message that we don’t need a war but if they (Russia) are going to push us we’re going to stand together.
“Artists like myself want to create something good. We want to create light and positive news but we’re living in this reality. We’re going to react. We’re not going to run.
If Pash is to represent Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest, she will sing her song Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, named after a famous Ukrainian film.
Updated following Alina Pash’s withdrawal from Eurovision.