Russia has pulled out of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv, saying it won’t agree to any compromises that would allow its chosen competitor to compete.
In March the Russian entry to the contest, Yulia Samoylova, was banned from traveling to Ukraine for three years after the SBU security service found that Samoylova had broken Ukrainian law by entering the country illegally.
Samoylova entered Crimea, a Ukrainian territory that Russia currently occupies, illegally in 2015. Under Ukrainian law, anyone who enters parts of Ukraine that are under foreign occupation has to do so from government-controlled territory.
Almost a month after the SBU banned Samoylova from entering Ukraine on March 22, Russia’s Perviy Kanal television channel said on April 13 that it would not broadcast Eurovision 2017 because it could not “resolve the question of the participation of contestant Yulia Samoylova.”
Yuriy Aksyuta, the main producer Perviy Kanal’s music and entertainment shows, said in a statement on April 14 that Russia was given two options for taking part in Eurovision this year: participation by video link, which he said was “a full violation of the rules, and discrimination against the Russian participant,” or selecting another contestant, which he said was “even worse.”
“Of course we won’t take part in Eurovision 2017 under the conditions we were offered, and we won’t broadcast it either,” Aksyuta said, “We think that the absence of a Russian participant is very damaging to the contest’s reputation, and in general is another reason for the Russian audience to ignore the contest.”
According to Perviy Kanal, they received a letter from the European Broadcasting Union that said, referring to the SBU, that they could not resolve the issue of Samoylova’s participation.
The director general of Eurovision, Ingrid Deltenre, on March 23 sent a letter to Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman asking him to “intervene and ensure that the Russian artist can enter Ukraine in May to participate.”
“The EBU does everything it can to ensure that the Eurovision Song Contest remains a non-political event, and we are increasingly frustrated, in fact angry, that this year’s competition is being used as tool in the ongoing confrontation between the Russian Federation and Ukraine,” Deltenre wrote in the letter, adding that if a solution could not be found, Ukraine’s future participation in the contest would be under threat.
Ukraine’s National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (NPBCU) made a statement in response to Russia’s decision not to broadcast Eurovision 2017.
“The refusal of Russia’s First Channel to broadcast Eurovision proves that despite its declared respect for the founding values of Eurovision, the key ones being mutual respect and absence of politics, Russia from the very start has intended not to take part in the contest, but to create a negative information atmosphere around the preparation and holding of the show.”
“The NPBCU, in close cooperation with EBU, continues its active preparations for Eurovision 2017,” the company said.