Artist News Releases

Ukrainian Eurovision entry may fall foul of ‘no politics’ rules

By | Published on Tuesday 23 February 2016


Ukraine has selected a song about Josef Stalin’s mass deportation of the Crimean Tatar people as its entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Though it may fall foul of the competition’s ‘no politics’ rule.

Written and performed by Susana Jamaladinova, under her stage name Jamala, the song ‘1944’ is inspired by the musician’s great-grandmother, who was one of those deported. The Crimean Tatar people were forced out to Central Asia after Stalin accused the entire 240,000 person population of collaborating with the Nazis. Many died en route, and none were able to return to Crimea until the 1980s.

While the song makes no specific comment on any other events in history, the subject matter has links to Russia’s 2014 occupation of Crimea, which had previously been an autonomous republic within Ukraine of course, and the continued assertion by the Kremlin that the territory is under its rule.

And Jamala herself has admitted this link, telling RFE/RL: “Now the Crimean Tatars are on occupied territory and it is very hard for them. They are under tremendous pressure. Some have disappeared without a trace. And that is terrifying. I would not want to see history repeat itself”.

Although the song was put forward as Ukraine’s entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest by both the public vote and a formal judging panel, it may yet been barred from the competition. In order to go through, Eurovision bosses would have to be convinced that the lyrics were not explicitly political and were simply describing a historical event that happened over 70 years ago. That may prove difficult.

A spokesperson for the competition told The Hollywood Reporter: “All entries for the upcoming contest, including the Ukrainian song, will be assessed under the rules by the [European Broadcast Union] and the reference group by the submission deadline [on 14 Mar]”.

Various songs have failed to go through to the main competition due to politically charged lyrics in the past. In 2009, Georgia’s entry ‘We Don’t Wanna Put In’ was turned away for making fun of Vladimir Putin less than a year after the country had been at war with Russia.
And in 2005, GreenJolly were forced to rewrite the lyrics of their song for Ukraine ‘Razom Nas Bahato’, it having been the unofficial anthem for the Ukrainian Orange Revolution the year before.

Whether this new song will make it through remains to be seen, but you can see Jamala perform ‘1944’ here: