Ukraine Facing 'Substantial Fine' for Barring Eurovision's Russian Entrant

NaviBand from Belarus performs the song "Historyja Majho Zyccia" during rehearsals for the Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev, Ukraine on May 10, 2017.
AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov

NaviBand from Belarus performs the song "Historyja Majho Zyccia" during rehearsals for the Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev, Ukraine on May 10, 2017. 

Ukraine is facing a fine over barring the Russian participant in this year's Eurovision Song Contest, Yulia Samoilova, from entering the country as well as organizational miscues tied to last month's contest.

"The organization of the competition was subject to severe delays which created unnecessary difficulties for the production," the European Broadcasting Union said in a statement sent to Billboard. "Additionally, the host broadcaster failed to adequately fulfill its obligations with regards to co-operating with the EBU over the participation of the Russian artist."

"As a result of this, attention was drawn away from the competition and the brand reputation of the Eurovision Song Contest was endangered," the EBU went on to say. "Therefore the contest's steering committee, the ESC Reference Group, has recommended that [Ukrainian state broadcaster] UA:PBC should receive a substantial fine, in line with the rules of the competition."

The EBU did not specify the size of the fine Ukraine would have to pay.

However, Zurab Alasania, general director of UA:PBC, was quoted by the Russian news agency RNS as saying that the fine would be €200,000 ($228,212).

According to Alsania, UA:PBC will appeal the decision as it had nothing to do with banning Samoilova's entry to Ukraine.

In fact, it was not the broadcaster, but the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which banned wheelchair-bound Samoilova, 27, from entering the country several weeks before the contest, which ran in Kyiv in May.

Samoilova's 2015 performance in Crimea, a peninsular region annexed by Russia from Ukraine three years ago, was given as the reason for the ban. Ukraine still considers Crimea its territory and views individuals entering it as a Russian region as violators of the Ukrainian law.

Russia and Ukraine rejected compromise solutions suggested by EBU, including Samoilova's performance via satellite without entering the Ukrainian territory.

Ukraine won the right to host the contest thanks to the victory of its entrant, singer Jamala, in the 2016 contest with a song about the 1944 deportation of Tatars from Crimea ordered by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

Meanwhile, the EBU chose not to punish Russia's Channel One for refusing to air Eurovision following Ukraine's decision to ban Samoilova.

"[The Eurovision Song Contest] Reference Group has recommended that there should be no further action brought against the broadcaster at this time," the EBU said.

"However, the Reference Group has reprimanded Channel One for not attending the obligatory Heads of Delegation meeting in Kyiv in March and for not broadcasting the live shows," it added.

According to the Reference Group, "those breaches of the competition's rules were offset by the fact that the Russian artist was not allowed access to participate in Ukraine."