Russia will be allowed to compete in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, despite the country launching a military assault on Ukraine.
Ukraine has officially severed diplomatic ties with Russia and declared martial law after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an attack on the neighbouring nation yesterday (February 24).
At the time of writing, at least 137 civilians have been killed in Ukraine with 316 injured (via The Guardian). It is currently being reported that Russian forces are now approaching Kyiv, the country’s capital (via BBC News).
The UK, European Union, the US and Australia have imposed sanctions on Russia in response, with Putin warning of “consequences you have never seen” if the West attempts to interfere.
While many figures from the music world continue to condemn the attacks, organisers of the Eurovision Song Contest have said that the event still plans to host singers from both Russia and Ukraine in May.
“The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political cultural event which unites nations and celebrates diversity through music,” an official statement reads.
“The EBU’s public broadcaster members in both Russia and Ukraine have committed to participating in this year’s event in Turin and we are currently planning to welcome artists from both countries to perform in May.
“We of course will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
It’s official! Kalush Orchestra will represent Ukraine at #Eurovision 2022!
— Eurovision Song Contest (@Eurovision) February 22, 2022
The Ukrainian state broadcaster UA:PBC, which produces Eurovision, has urged the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to suspend Russia from this year’s edition.
In a statement, it claimed that Russian broadcasters have served as “a mouthpiece for the Kremlin and a key tool of political propaganda” as well as taking part in “systematic dissemination of disinformation” against Ukraine.
It said this is “contrary” to the values of the EBU, though the Russian media delegation has not yet responded to the comments.
On Tuesday (February 22), it was officially announced that Kalush Orchestra will represent Ukraine at Eurovision 2022.
It came after Ukrainian singer Alina Pash was removed from the competition following an investigation into a 2015 trip she made to Crimea, an area Russia seized control of back in 2014.
This year’s representative for Russia has not yet been announced.
Ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine have impacted previous editions of the Eurovision Song Contest. In 2016, Russia were favourites to win that year’s event before Ukrainian singer Jamala claimed victory with a song that depicted the deportation of Crimean Tatars by Josef Stalin in 1944.
The lyrics to the track in question were interpreted as a criticism of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. “The main message is to remember and to know this story. When we know, we prevent,” Jamala told the press, seemingly confirming the claims.
John Kennedy O’Connor, a Eurovision expert, said the result that year served as “a pointed slap in Russia’s face” (via BBC News).
Then, in 2017, Russia pulled out of Eurovision after its contestant Julia Samoylova was barred from Ukraine, which was hosting the event.
A dispute was raised as to whether Samoylova would be able to attend the competition because she had reportedly toured Crimea without entering it through the border with the Ukrainian mainland.
Eurovision 2022 will take place at the PalaOlimpico in Turin, Italy, with the Grand Final set for May 14.
“I am standing in solidarity with everyone in Ukraine who is affected by this attack and with our global community who is calling for an immediate end to this violence,” Cyrus wrote in a statement on social media.
As the BBC reports, Russia has long resisted Ukraine’s move towards embracing European institutions like NATO and the EU. Putin is now demanding guarantees from the West and Ukraine that it will not join NATO, a defensive alliance of 30 countries, and that Ukraine demilitarise and become a neutral state.
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