Ukraine bars Russia entry from Eurovision Song Contest 2017
March 22, 2017
Ukraine has barred Russia's Eurovision contestant from entering the country because she previously performed in Crimea. Relations between the neighbors have deteriorated since Moscow's 2014 annexation of the territory.
Ukraine's security service said Wednesday it had "banned the citizen of the Russian Federation Yulia Samoylova from entering the country for a period of three years."
A spokeswoman said Samoylova violated Ukrainian laws when she toured Crimea in 2015 without entering the territory via the de-facto border with the Ukrainian mainland.
The 27-year-old singer, who has been confined to a wheelchair since childhood, sang at the opening of the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. In 2015, she traveled to Crimea to perform at a gala concert aimed at promoting sports. Earlier this month she was chosen to represent Russia at the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest, which takes place in Kyiv from May 11-13.
Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula in March 2014 and the ensuing Moscow-backed insurgency in eastern Ukraine have sent diplomatic relations between the two ex-Soviet countries to an all-time low.
Moscow slams 'outrageous' ban
Russia lashed out at Ukrainian authorities over the travel ban, calling it "yet another outrageous, cynical and inhumane act."
Ukraine had previously condemned the choice of singer as a Russian "provocation," while the Kremlin said it wanted to avoid "politicizing" the international singing event. Moscow accused Kyiv of similar provocations at last year's contest in Stockholm. Ukraine's 2016 entrant was a Crimean Tatar named Jamala, whose song decried war-time deportations of Tatars under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in the 1940s.
The organizers of Eurovision said in a statement they were "deeply disappointed" by Ukraine's decision to ban the Russian singer, adding that "it goes against both the spirit of the contest, and the notion of inclusivity that lies at the heart of its values."
Samoylova had intended to sing "Flame Is Burning" in English. Last week she told a Russian newspaper it was her "greatest dream" to sing at Eurovision.