News and Analysis

Eurovision Bans Russia From Competing In Singing Competition After Ukraine Invasion
Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images

Relations between Russia and Ukraine couldn’t possibly be worse right now after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an attack on the neighboring country early Thursday morning. Those aggressive actions mean Russia will not be able to compete in the Eurovision singing competition. 

“The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has announced that no Russian act will participate in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest,” a statement read, according to CNN. “The decision reflects concern that, in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s Contest would bring the competition into disrepute.”

This announcement comes not long after Ukraine’s public broadcast company, UA:PBC, requested that Russia be banned from the competition plus removed from the EBU (European Broadcast Unit). 

Their request described Russian media as, “a mouthpiece for the Kremlin and a key tool of political propaganda financed from the Russian state budget,” according to NPR. That same letter also requested for the Eurovision competitor from Russia to be disqualified. The contest is scheduled to take place in Turin, Italy, in May. 

“The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political cultural event,” the European Broadcasting Union originally said in a statement to BuzzFeed News before changing course. “The EBU is however concerned about current events in Ukraine and will continue to closely monitor the situation.” 

The competition is meant to be “non-political,” but that’s near impossible when Russia and Ukraine are involved. Tensions have run high between the neighboring countries for years, especially since Russia’s 2014 invasion and annexation of the Crimean peninsula, BuzzFeed reported

A Ukrainian singer named Jamala won the 2016 competition with a song about the 1944 deportation of Crimean Tatars by Soviet Union leader Josef Stalin. Viewers understood her topic choice as a thinly veiled rebuke on the Russian takeover of Crimea. 

Jamala shared a post about her feelings on the attack via Instagram.

“I don’t know how it’s possible, but they bombed peaceful people in Ukraine,” she wrote from Kyiv. “Please support Ukraine. Stop Russian aggression.”

Other former Eurovision contestants also expressed their thoughts on the Russian invasion that shocked the world. 

“This is the morning when you regret waking up,” a 2021 Russian competitor named Manizha shared to Instagram with a black square. “You don’t know where to go, who to help. I sit on the corner of the bed and cry. I cry because it’s not my choice. The current aggression is against my will, against the will of my family, I believe that it is against the will of our peoples.”

The Russian competitors for Eurovision haven’t been announced yet. But last week, UA:PBC “suspended” their agreement with Ukrainian singer Alina Pash after protesters called her out for touring Crimea in 2015, one year after Putin staged an occupation, NPR reported. The hip hop group Kalush Orchestra is expected to perform in her place. 

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