Russia's spurned singer tapped as Eurovision 2018 contestant

Apr 15, 2017, 05:36
Russia's spurned singer tapped as Eurovision 2018 contestant

Russian television station Channel One has announced that it will not broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest this year or take part in the competition because its contestant has been barred from host country Ukraine.

Ukraine said Russian singer Yulia Samoylova could not travel to Kiev for the competition next month because she had performed in Crimea after the region was annexed by Russia.

It has been reported that possible solutions included a change of contestant that could travel to Ukraine, or a satellite performance from Samoylova.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed "regret that the Eurovision organisers have turned out to be unable to fulfil the terms of their own rules", and compel Ukraine to allow Samoylova to travel to Kiev.

"Russia's aim right from the start was not taking part in the contest but creating an atmosphere of negativity in coverage of the preparations and the holding of the contest", the broadcaster said in a statement. On Friday, the European Broadcasting Union announced Russian Federation would no longer be taking part in May's contest. "We very much wanted all 43 countries to be able to participate and did all we could to achieve this", the EBU added.

Russian Federation selected singer Yulia Samoilova as its contestant earlier this month. She had broken Ukrainian law by performing in the occupied Crimea without authorised access from Ukraine.

Due to the travel restrictions, organizers offered Russian Federation some alternative options.

Channel One, Russia's TV network, rejected both options and announced they won't broadcast this year's the competition.

It says Ukraine is undermining the non-political nature of the contest. "Our top priority remains to produce a spectacular Eurovision Song Contest with our Member UA:PBC in May", Freiling said.

She has been a wheelchair user since childhood, due to spinal muscular atrophy that affected her legs.

Russia's participation in the contest had already been in doubt following Jamala's victory in Stockholm past year - but they later surprised everybody by unveiling their song and performer just a day before the deadline for songs to be submitted to the EBU.

Kiev will host the final of the Eurovision Song Contest on May 13 after two semi-finals earlier that week.

It is the first time the host state has banned another state's entrant and the controversy over Samilova brought with it condemnation from many within Eurovision who accused Ukraine of over-politicising the contest.

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