Eurovision winner Jamala: We can′t ignore politics | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 10.05.2017
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Eurovision winner Jamala: We can't ignore politics

As the Eurovision Song Contest finals approach, last year's winner, Ukraine's Jamala, told DW about the politics of the music spectacle. She also explained why she's worried about the future of Crimea.

DW: You won the competition last year and brought the Eurovision Song Contest to Kyiv. Are you satisfied with the way your country is hosting the finals?

Jamala: Of course, I am very happy. It's a celebration not only for my team and my family but for the entire country. My country is happy. Look on the streets today - they are decorated and everyone is walking around, everyone is singing. It doesn't matter what you think of the Eurovision contest, it's an honor to welcome so many guests.

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Eurovision in Kyiv

In your song, titled "1944," you recalled the fate of the Crimean Tartars who were persecuted and deported under Soviet rule. Many in Moscow saw that as a provocation. What was the intention of your song?

I had to put up with a lot. There were a lot of rumors and a lot of talk. People had a sensitive reaction because the issue had been a taboo for so long. The title alone, "1944," was provocative because it brought us back to a time when the Crimean Tartars were deported. I did not change the song's title because this date is connected to my family - to my great-grandmother Nasylchan who was deported to Central Asia with her children. It shows the pain, the tragedy of an entire people.

There's a more important aspect: Why did Europe vote for me? Because today, it seems to me, that things are happing in the world that are no less terrible. People and individuals are being murdered - for no reason. That's why, it seems to me, the public in Europe reacted to my song the way it did. People felt the song on an emotional level.

Eurovision Song Contest 2017 in Kiew Jamala (DW/A. Brenner)

Jamala placed first in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, ahead of Australia and Russia

Right now, the Tartars in Crimea face various sorts of discrimination since Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula three years ago. You are a Tartar yourself, and your parents live there. What do you hear from Crimea?

That's is a painful topic for me. My parents are there, and I am very worried about them. The Russians understand that Crimean Tartars do not agree with the occupation - the annexation - and that they will take steps against it. So it's important for the Russians that their opponents do not get a chance to speak out. That's why people there just disappear from the street, especially young people. It's very sad. I'm very worried about the future of Crimea.

Russia will not participate in this year's Eurovision Song Contest because their nominee was banned from entering Ukraine as she had previously violated Ukrainian immigration laws.  Do you miss the Russian fans and artists?

No, sorry. No.

Observers have said the Kyiv 2017 European Song Contest is being overshadowed by politics that it is being overshadowed by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Do you share this point of view?

I find that very sad. I think no normal person wants war or conflict. But it is the case that we have a war going on in Donbass and that Crimea is occupied. What can we do? We cannot just close our eyes and pretend that nothing is happening.

Interview conducted by Christian Trippe.

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