The Flame is Still Burning: Russia may still compete in Eurovision 2017

As you may have heard, yesterday Ukraine confirmed the planned ban on Russian performer Julia Samoylova. Long story short, the Ukrainian Government has banned Russian artists who support the 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula by banning them from entering the country. As this is a governmental ban irrelevant, and beyond the scope of Eurovision, the Ukrainian government have stood strong on the issue and have gone through with banning Julia from entering Ukraine, even if it is for Eurovision.

The EBU have stated that they are disappointed with the decision, however will keep a dialogue open to ensure all 43 acts will be able to perform at this year’s Eurovision. The EBU statement also went on to say that the decision goes against what the overarching theme of Eurovision has been since its inception, which is the notion of inclusivity.

Just now, the EBU has released another statement. Here is the full statement as posted by the official Eurovision website:

Taking into consideration that this ban might be upheld by the Ukrainian authorities, and in order to maintain the non-political nature of the Eurovision Song Contest, the EBU has been working hard to find a solution to this situation and has taken the unprecedented move to offer Channel One Russia the opportunity for Julia to still participate in this year’s Contest by performing live in the 2nd Semi Final via satellite. Should the Russian entry qualify for the Grand Final the same solution would apply. This is something that has never been done before in the Contest’s 60 year history but, in the spirit of Eurovision’s values of inclusivity, and this year’s theme of Celebrate Diversity, the decision has been taken to ensure that all 43 entrants are given the opportunity to participate.

Eurovision Song Contest Executive Supervisor, Jon Ola Sand said: “We are continuing our dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities with the ambition to have all artists present to perform in host city, Kyiv, which is, of course, our preferred option. It is imperative that the Eurovision Song Contest remains free from politics and as such, due to the circumstances surrounding Julia’s travel ban, we have felt it important to propose a solution that transcends such issues. We have offered Channel One Russia the opportunity for Julia to perform live via satellite as it is the EBU’s intention that every broadcaster that has chosen to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest does so, as has been the case for all previous events in the contest’s history.”

Frank-Dieter Freiling, Chairman of the Reference Group, the governing body of the Eurovision Song Contest, expressed his hope though, that the political leadership of Ukraine will not implement the travel ban and find a solution in line with the contest’s slogan, Celebrate Diversity.

Stay tuned for more updates on the situation.

*Update* The EBU has not yet released a new statement, however it has been claimed that Russia’s broadcaster has declined the offer to participate via satellite.  More to come.