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Ukraine faces fine over Eurovision organisation and dispute with Russia

By | Published on Friday 30 June 2017

Eurovision Song Contest

Ukraine’s national broadcaster UA:PBC is facing a fine from the European Broadcasting Union relating to issues surrounding the organisation of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Not least Russia’s entrant being barred from entering the country.

As previously reported, Russia threatened to boycott this year’s Eurovision after Ukraine was announced as the 2016 winner and therefore host of the 2017 competition. It looked as if Russia would go through with that threat, but right at the last minute the country entered a song performed by Julia Samoilova.

Ukraine then added Samoilova to its blacklist of artists who have performed in the disputed territory of Crimea since Russia took control of the region. This meant that she would be blocked from entering Ukraine, and arrested if she tried. Attempts to resolve the situation, including offering to allow Samoilova to perform from outside Ukraine via satellite, proved unsuccessful. In the end, Russia simply did not take part, carrying out that boycott after all.

Prior to all this, there had been a number of issues with the organisation of the event, which led to the entire team in charge of putting it together quitting in February. Issues with subcontractors also delayed the building of the stage.

“The EBU was pleased with the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, and commend UA:PBC, their staff, and all those who worked hard on the three live TV shows broadcast from Kiev in May”, said the EBU in a statement. “The organisation of the competition, however, was subject to severe delays which created unnecessary difficulties for the production”.

“Additionally, the host broadcaster failed to adequately fulfil its obligations with regards to co-operating with the EBU over the participation of the Russian artist”, it went on. “As a result of this, attention was drawn away from the competition and the brand reputation of the Eurovision Song Contest was endangered”.

EBU’s steering committee has therefore “recommended that UA:PBC should receive a substantial fine, in line with the rules of the competition”.

UA:PBC Director Zurab Alasania confirmed to Reuters that it had been ordered to pay a fine of 200,000 euros, but that the broadcaster would appeal the decision. In part because it was not actually involved in any of the decision-making that led to the dispute with Russia. Although he noted that the EBU was unlikely to get its money from anywhere else.

“Formally, it wasn’t us who made the decision not to allow [Samoilova to enter the country], but I don’t think that the SBU [state security force] or the government will want to take part in this”, he admitted.

Ukraine is already in a tricky situation financially with the EBU though. Last week, it announced that fifteen million euros handed over to the Eurovision overseer as insurance for a successful contest had been frozen by authorities in Geneva. The money was due to be handed back after the event, but is being held for reasons unknown.

Alasania told Reuters that UA:PBC had hired lawyers in Switzerland to try to identify why the money was being held, and how to get it released.

Meanwhile, if you were wondering when the vinyl revival would peak, I think that time has come. I present as evidence the Eurovision 2017 vinyl box set.