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Ukraine: Russia banned from Eurovision song contest
Russia has been disallowed to compete in this year’s Eurovision song contest, with organisers saying its inclusion could “bring the competition into disrepute”.
This was disclosed on Thursday when the European Broadcasting Union said Russia would still be allowed to compete, despite its invasion of Ukraine. But after pressure from broadcasters across Europe, the EBU made a U-turn, publishing a statement on Friday stating the country would no longer be allowed to take part.
In a statement, the EBU – an alliance of public service media organisations that produces the contest – said its executive board made the decision after a recommendation made by the Eurovision song contest’s governing body, based on “the rules of the event and the values of the EBU”.
They said: “The decision reflects concern that, in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s contest would bring the competition into disrepute.
“Before making this decision the EBU took time to consult widely among its membership. The EBU is an apolitical member organisation of broadcasters committed to upholding the values of public service.
“We remain dedicated to protecting the values of a cultural competition which promotes international exchange and understanding, brings audiences together, celebrates diversity through music and unites Europe on one stage.”
The EBU was criticised for its previous decision to allow Russia to compete, and had referred to the contest as a “non-political cultural event”, pointing out that Ukraine and Russia would both compete. SVT, the Swedish state broadcaster, had criticised this response and called on the EBU to review its decision.
Ukraine’s state broadcaster, UA:PBC, also said Russia should be banned from the contest.
Russia’s Eurovision delegation have not responded.
This year’s Eurovision song contest will take place in May in Turin, after the Italian band Måneskin won last year’s competition.
Ukraine have selected the group Kalush Orchestra to represent the country, with the band replacing Alina Pash, the original choice. Pash withdrew on 16 February after scrutiny over a trip she made to Crimea in 2015, which is annexed by Russia.
Russia has not yet selected a contestant.
The UK culture secretary said she was glad to see Russia had been excluded from the contest. Nadine Dorries tweeted: “Eurovision stands for freedom, unity and respect between countries – watched and enjoyed by tens of millions around the world. Glad to see Eurovision taking action and kicking Russia out.”