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Ukraine slams Eurovision amid feud with Russia

April 2, 2017

Kyiv has lashed out at Eurovision after organizers called on Ukraine to lift its ban on Russian entrant Yulia Samoilova. The singer is believed to have illegally entered Moscow-annexed Crimea for a 2015 performance.

Eurovision Song Contest sign
Image: picture-alliance/ZUMAPRESS/S. Glovny

Following calls from Eurovision Song Contest organizers for Ukraine to lift an entry ban on Russian contestant Yulia Samoilova, Kyiv complained on Saturday of "unprecedented and unacceptable" demands.

The weeks-long row ahead of the Eurovision song contest scheduled for May kicked off in March after Ukraine - this year's ESC host - barred 27-year-old Russian singer Yulia Samoilova over illegally entering Moscow-annexed Crimea for a 2015 performance.

Search for a compromise

Eurovision organizers, the Geneva-based European Broadcasting Union (EBU), have sought to find a compromise but have so far been rebuffed by both sides.

Eurovision drama: Ukraine vs. Russia, Round 2

"It is unprecedented and unacceptable to demand such extraordinary decisions from Ukraine for the sake of Russia," Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Vyacheslav Kyrylenko said in comments released by his office on Saturday.

'Unacceptable' ban

Kyrylenko's comments came in light of a leaked letter on Friday in which EBU Director-General Ingrid Deltenre urged Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman to lift the "unacceptable" ban on the Russian singer.

Read more: Opinion - Russia makes smart move for Eurovision

"I think that France, Germany, Britain, Poland would have made the same decision, as well as any other country that is a member of the EBU," Kyrylenko said in an interview with a Ukrainian radio station.

#DWmypic: Russian ESC nominee banned from Ukraine

The EBU suggested last Thursday that Samoilova could perform via satellite link. Channel One Russia rejected the idea, however, claiming that Samoylova performing via a remote link would be strange, given that live performances are a prerequisite for entrants.

The Eurovision semifinals will be held in Kiev on May 9 and 11, while the final will be on May 13.

On-going conflict

The Eurovision spat is just the latest row to come between Moscow and Kyiv. The nations have been at political loggerheads since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and over Russia's subsequent involvement in a conflict pitting Ukraine troops against pro-Russian rebels in the east of the country.

Almost 10,000 people have been killed since the start of the pro-Russian insurgency that Kyiv and the West accuse Moscow of masterminding. Russia has repeatedly denied the claims.

ksb/gsw (AFP, Reuters)