Ukraine confirms that the country won’t temporarily lift an entry ban on Russian artists who supported the annexation of Crimea for the duration of next year’s Eurovision contest, as some reports alleged. Meanwhile, it is confirmed that the song contest won’t be moved from Ukraine’s capital Kiev.
Earlier this week, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister Vyacheslav Kirilenko was quoted by the news agency Interfax Ukraine as saying that reports about temporarily lifting the entry ban are “totally untrue.”
Last year, Ukraine barred some Russian artists who had praised the annexation of Crimea, annexed by Russia in March 2014, from entering the country. The ban extended to artists who performed in the disputed region as well.
The “black list” includes popular singers Oleg Gazmanov, Mikhail Boyarsky, Nikolai Rastorguyev, Iosif Kobzon, Valeria and Grigory Leps.
Now, if Russia chooses to enter a black-listed artist in the Eurovision song contest next May, it may lead to controversy.
A spokesperson for the National Television Company of Ukraine (NTKU), the local organizer of Eurovision, was unable to answer Billboard’s question about what will happen if a black-listed Russian artist is chosen to represent the country at the contest.
“Issues related to introducing or canceling entry bans for specific citizens of Russia are dealt with by [Ukraine’s] law enforcement agencies,” she said. “NTKU has nothing to do with compiling the so-called ‘black lists.'”
A spokesman for The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Eurovision’s organizer, told Billboard that the organization is “engaging in constructive dialogue with NTKU and the Ukrainian authorities to ensure that all delegates and artists can come and stay in Ukraine.”
“We expect The Eurovision Song Contest 2017 to be as inclusive as every other year and Ukraine to honor the freedom of all delegations and artists to participate,” he added.
Meanwhile, rumors that Ukraine may have to relinquish the event — and send it to Moscow — due to financial constraints have been roundly denied.
“Despite recent media reports, we can confirm there are no plans to move the 2017 Eurovision song contest to Moscow,” EBU’s spokesman said.
The 2017 Eurovision Song Contest is to be held in Kiev on May 9, 11 and 13. Ukraine won the right to host it due to this year’s victory of the country’s entrant, singer Jamala.
Russia, whose entrant, Sergey Lazarev, came in second, reacted bitterly to Jamala’s victory. Her winning song, “1944,” centered on the deportation of Crimean Tartars by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in 1944, and many saw parallels in the track with Russia’s annexation of Crimea.