Russia Refuses to Air Eurovision Song Contest After Ukraine Bans Singer


Russian state broadcaster Channel One is no longer planning to air this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, after its contestant was barred from entering the host country, Ukraine.

Last month, Ukraine banned Russian participant Julia Samoylova, a 28-year-old wheelchair-bound singer, from traveling to Kiev, where the Eurovision semi-finals and final will be held. Ukraine is refusing to allow Samoylova to perform because she toured Crimea, the peninsula seized by Russia, in 2014.

Russia has now pulled out of the competition and will not broadcast the event.

After receiving confirmation of the travel ban, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) formally offered two alternative proposals to Channel One in a bid to find a solution that would enable Russia to continue its participation.

“These proposals were to either take part via satellite or to change their chosen artist to one who could legally travel to Ukraine for the duration of the contest,” the EBU stated. “Sadly, both proposals have been rejected by Channel One and they have now announced they do not intend to broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. Unfortunately, this means Russia will no longer be able to take part in this year’s competition. We very much wanted all 43 countries to be able to participate and did all we could to achieve this.”

Frank Dieter Freiling, the chairman of the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group, the event’s guiding committee, said: “We strongly condemn the Ukrainian authorities’ decision to impose a travel ban on Julia Samoylova as we believe it thoroughly undermines the integrity and non-political nature of the Eurovision Song Contest and its mission to bring all nations together in friendly competition. However, preparations continue apace for the Eurovision Song Contest in the host city Kyiv. Our top priority remains to produce a spectacular Eurovision Song Contest with our member UA:PBC [the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine] in May.”