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Russia's Red Army Choir hopes for 2017 Eurovision in Ukraine

The artistic director of Russia's official Red Army Choir, formed during the Soviet era, has voiced readiness to join the competition. But tensions remain high following this year's unexpected win by Ukraine's Jamala.

The Alexandrov Ensemble Choir, also known as the Red Army Choir, performs at a synagogue in Budapest

The Alexandrov Ensemble Choir, also known as the Red Army Choir, performs at a synagogue in Budapest

Following a series of politically-charged comments in the wake of this year's Eurovision Song Contest, the artistic director of the Russian armed forces' Alexandrov Ensemble Choir announced his group is ready to represent Russia at the European song contest in Ukraine next year.

"When Moscow hosted Eurovision several years ago, we presented a short solo program there, and if we have one more opportunity to appear in another Eurovision Song Contest then we're prepared to do it," the Red Army Choir's Artistic Director Gennady Sachenyuk told Govorit Moskva radio on Monday, reported Russia's state-owned TASS news agency.

He added that the ensemble could modify its format to fit the contest's rules. "We're prepared to consider and discuss any format of participation in the contest," Sachenyuk said.

Ukrainian singer Jamala won this year's competition with the song "1944," which reflects on the deportations of ethnic Tatars from the Crimean Peninsula during the reign of late Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

The politics of music

Meanwhile, Russian singer Sergei Lazarev came in third place, prompting a backlash from Russian politicians who claimed that Jamala's win was politically motivated.

"It was not the Ukrainian singer Jamala and her song '1944' that won the Eurovision 2016 - it was politics that beat art," Russian politician Frankts Klintsevich told Russian media.

In February, Jamala said her song "1944" aims to highlight the plight of Tatar community, although it does not specifically mention Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

"It was hard for me to recall all these memories again and again, but I understand that it is necessary now. Because now the Crimean Tatars are desperate, and they need support," Jamala said.

In April, a court in Russia-administered Crimea upheld a Moscow-appointed prosecutor's ban on the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatar community's representative body.

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