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Ukraine bans Russian Eurovision singer from entering the country

By | Published on Thursday 23 March 2017

Eurovision Song Contest

Ukraine has banned Russia’s Eurovision entrant Julia Samoilova from entering the country for three years, which is a bit of an issue as it’s less than two months until the competition, which is taking place in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev in May.

As previously reported, Russia threatened to boycott this year’s competition when Ukraine won it last year. It then waited until the last minute to put forward Samoilova as its contender for 2017, a contestant on the Russian version of ‘X-Factor’ who previously sang at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Ukraine immediately threatened to bar her from entering the country after it emerged that she had performed in Crimea since Russia occupied the region in 2014, as it already has done to around 140 other artists. Alternatively, the Ukrainian security service, SBU, said that she may be allowed to enter the country but be arrested once she is across the border. Either way, that’s not great when she’s just trying to sing a song in a competition.

SBU has now confirmed that Samoilova has indeed been placed on its blacklist, meaning that she will not be able to attend the competition in May. A Russian foreign ministry source reportedly called the move “cynical and inhumane”; while another Russian politician, Frants Klintsevich, has called on Eurovision organisers to speak up for the singer, or face future boycotts by Russia.

There are some, however, who say that this is exactly what Russia wanted to happen and that’s why it put her forward as its entrant. It has also been suggested that had Samoilova been able to appear at the competition in Kiev in May, any animosity towards her within the local audience would then have been spun as disablist, she being a wheelchair user.

In a statement, Eurovision organiser EBU said: “It has been confirmed to the EBU that the Ukrainian authorities have issued a travel ban on the Russian artist chosen for the Eurovision Song Contest, Julia Samoylova, as she has been judged to have contravened Ukrainian law by entering Crimea in order to perform”.

It continued: “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. 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 final of the competition is due to take place on 13 May.