Eurovision Song Contest organizers revealed on Thursday (Feb. 24) that Russia will still participate this year, despite the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political cultural event,” the show’s organizers said in a statement to NPR. “The EBU is however concerned about current events in Ukraine and will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
The announcement comes after Ukraine’s national public broadcaster, UA:PBC, requested Russia be removed from the contest. Mykola Chernotytsky, chair of UA:PBC’s board sent an open letter to EBU’s president Delphine Ernotte Cunci, noting that “the Eurovision Song Contest was created after the Second World War to unite Europe. In view of this, Russia’s participation as an aggressor and violator of international law in this year’s Eurovision undermines the very idea of the competition.”
“Please note that Russia’s participation in this year’s competition is provided by the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, which is an instrument of the Kremlin’s power in the information war against Ukraine and constantly violates journalistic standards underlying public broadcasting,” the letter continues, as published by Variety. Russia’s exclusion from this large-scale song event will be a powerful response by the international community of public broadcasters to the unacceptable aggressive and illegal actions of the Russian Federation and support for the country’s state broadcasters’ hostile policy of aggression.”
The attacks on major cities in Ukraine comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin said that there would be a “special military operation,” which has turned into an all-out assault. Putin also strongly warned other countries against daring to intervene with his plans.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country is currently under attack “from the south, north, east and from the air.” Kyiv has said dozens of residents as well as soldiers in the country’s capital have already been killed while trying to defend and protect against Russia’s offensive military forces, according to NBC News.
The Eurovision Song Contest, which will take place in May 2022 in Turin, Italy, brings together musical artists from across Europe (as well as Israel and Australia) to perform for a chance to be voted winner by judges and the public. Italy’s Maneskin won in 2021.