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Russia excluded from Eurovision Song Contest following Ukraine invasion

By PA News
Maneskin won last year’s show (Ian West/PA)

Russia will no longer participate in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest following the invasion of Ukraine, the competition’s producer has announced.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said in a statement that the inclusion of a Russian entry at contest in Turin in May would bring the contest into “disrepute”.

Eurovision had previously said it intended to allow Russia to compete but faced strong criticism from state broadcasters in countries including Iceland, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands.

Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC had also earlier this week urged the EBU to suspend Russia’s membership and ban it from the contest.

A statement released on Friday said the EBU’s executive board had made the decision following a recommendation by the Eurovision governing body, known as the reference group, based on “the rules of the event and the values of the EBU”.

We remain dedicated to protecting the values of a cultural competition which promotes international exchange and understanding, brings audiences together, celebrates diversity through music and unites Europe on one stage
EBU

It added: “The reference group recommendation was also supported by the EBU’s television committee.

“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.

“Before making this decision the EBU took time to consult widely among its membership.

“The EBU is an apolitical member organisation of broadcasters committed to upholding the values of public service.

“We remain dedicated to protecting the values of a cultural competition which promotes international exchange and understanding, brings audiences together, celebrates diversity through music and unites Europe on one stage.”

The 66th edition of Eurovision is due to take place in Turin after Italian rock band Maneskin won the 2021 contest.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries tweeted: “Eurovision stands for freedom, unity and respect between countries – watched and enjoyed by tens of millions around the world.

“Glad to see @Eurovision taking action and kicking Russia out.”

Russia had not yet announced its act for 2022. It won in 2008 with Dima Bilan singing Believe, and in turn hosted the 2009 contest in Moscow.

The country made its debut in 1994 and remains among the most successful countries at the contest, coming second four times and third four times.

Last week, the act chosen to represent Ukraine withdrew after facing scrutiny over a reported 2015 visit to Russia-occupied Crimea.

Alina Pash had been chosen in a televised national selection show and was due to perform her song Shadows Of Forgotten Ancestors, but pulled out after details of the trip emerged and was replaced by rap act Kalush Orchestra with the song Stefania.

People who enter Crimea via Russia are considered by Ukraine to have illegally crossed the border, although there is no suggestion that Pash did this.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine played out around the event in 2017 when Julia Samoylova was chosen to represent Russia at the contest which that year took place in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

She was blocked from the country because she had reportedly toured Crimea without entering it through the border with the Ukrainian mainland.

Russian television station Channel One then announced it would not broadcast the contest or take part.


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