Wednesday 20 September 2017

New Eurovision crisis as Ukraine bans Russia's singer from entering country

Julia Samoylova
Julia Samoylova
Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

THIS year's Eurovision has been plunged into further crisis after host country Ukraine banned Russia's singer from entering the country.

Julia Samoilova has been banned from attending the event because of her 'llegal' visit to Crimea in 2015, the Ukrainian SBU security service said.

Crimea was annexed by Moscow in 2014.

The move will plunge the content into a new crisis - host broadcasters are obliged to ensure the safe entry of all participating countries.

However allowing entry of the Russian singer would go against national law in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Security Service spokeswoman Olena Gitlanska said that the service has banned Samoylova from the country for three years "on the basis of information received about her violation of Ukrainian law".

Ukraine's Jamala reacts on winning the Eurovision Song Contest final at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden. TT News Agency/Maja Suslin/via Reuters
Ukraine's Jamala reacts on winning the Eurovision Song Contest final at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden. TT News Agency/Maja Suslin/via Reuters

Samoylova, who has been confined to a wheelchair since childhood, sang at the opening of the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

The move will further stoke tensions between the countries - Russia had been considering withdrawing from the annual music competition, due to be held in May in Kiev.

Loreen after he Eurovision victory in 2012 with 'Euphoria'
Loreen after he Eurovision victory in 2012 with 'Euphoria'

Ukraine won last year's content with song '1944' by singer Jamala - which was about Joseph Stalin's mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars during World War Two.

The EBU (European Broadcasting Union) said in a statement: "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.

Singer Mans Zelmerloew representing Sweden celebrates winning the final of the 60th annual Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna
Singer Mans Zelmerloew representing Sweden celebrates winning the final of the 60th annual Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna

"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."

The news comes weeks after the entire organising committee at host broadcaster NTU resigned.

In a bid to end the crisis contest bosses appointed Swedish Eurovision supremo Christer Bjorkman as contest producer for Kiev late last month.

Bjorkman has been behind the highly praised editions of the contest in Malmo in 2013 and Stockholm last year.

His revamp of the Swedish national selection, Melodifestivalen, has led to two victories and numerous top five results over the last decade for the country.

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