Ukraine Bans Russia's Pick for Eurovision Contest

Yulia Samoilova during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia on March 7, 2014.
AP Photo/Ekaterina Lyzlova, File

Yulia Samoilova during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia on March 7, 2014.

Ukraine has banned Yulia Samoilova, Russia’s entry in the Eurovision song contest, from entering the country, ruling out her participation in the contest.

"The Security Service Ukraine [SBU] banned Russian citizen Yulia Samoilova from entering the territory of Ukraine for three years," Yelena Gitlyanskaya, a representative of SBU, was quoted as saying by Russian news agency Interfax.

SBU explained its decision by the fact that back in 2015, Samoilova (also known as Yuliya Samoylova) performed in Crimea, a peninsular region annexed by Russia from Ukraine.

As soon as the 27-year-old, wheelchair-bound Samoilova was selected as Russia's participant with the song "Flame is Burning," information about her Crimean performance soon was revealed, and SBU launched a probe to determine whether it was correct.

Some Ukrainian politicians and officials said that Russia had deliberately chosen Samoilova to represent the country to provoke controversy.

"We have to respect the local laws of the host country, however we are deeply disappointed in this decision as we feel it goes against both the spirit of the contest, and the notion of inclusivity that lies at the heart of its values," the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Eurovision's organizer, said in a statement sent to Billboard.

"We will continue a dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities with the aim of ensuring that all artists can perform at the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv in May," it added.

Meanwhile, Russia reacted angrily to Ukraine's decision. Frants Klintsevich, deputy head of the defense and security committee at the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russian Parliament, was quoted by newspaper Moskovski Komsomolets as saying that Russia will boycott all subsequent Eurovision editions unless EBU condemns the ban of Samoilova.

Earlier this week, there were also reports that Armenia's entry, Artsvik Arutunyan, is also facing scrutiny from SBU over an alleged visit to Crimea, which Ukraine considers an occupied territory, and is also facing a ban from performing at Eurovision this year.