Politics and Eurovision: Russian contestant banned from Ukraine

Politics and Eurovision: Russian contestant banned from Ukraine

Despite a policy that prohibits “non-political” entries, Eurovision has never been so politicised. Russia, a constant in every Eurovision final

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Despite a policy that prohibits “non-political” entries, Eurovision has never been so politicised. Russia, a constant in every Eurovision final since 2004, will be noticeably absent from Saturday’s spectacle.

Russia’s absence stems from the victory of Ukraine’s contestant, Jamala, last year. She sang 1944—a ballad mourning the deportation of Crimean Tartars by Joseph Stalin. Moscow vigorously protested the inclusion of this innately political song and was dismayed when Jamala won the contest. Her victory granted Ukraine the right to host Eurovision this year, prompting the current spat.

In March, Ukrainian authorities refused to grant a visa to Russia’s entrant, Yulia Samoylova, because she performed in Crimea in 2015—after Russia had annexed the territory.

While Eurovision’s organising body criticised the move, it failed to take concrete steps to prevent it, prompting Russia to pull out of the contest.

For a show that was founded to heal painful divisions in Europe, this year’s Eurovision has done an exceptional job of doing precisely the opposite.