Hostilities between Russia and Ukraine are heating up again over the deadly serious issue of Eurovision participation. This year’s host, Ukraine, has banned Russian entry Yulia Samoylova from travelling to the competition, because she entered Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. Samoylova has been denied entry to Ukraine for three years by Ukraine’s security service for travelling to Crimea to perform at a gala event.

Ever the peacemaker, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which runs Eurovision, offered to bend the rules to allow Russia to compete by beaming into the competition via satellite instead of live on stage in Kiev. But Russia has refused, saying the rules demand a live performance on stage, and they will only participate if they’re allowed to do so. The two countries are now at a stalemate, with Russia saying it expects the EBU to step in.

Ukraine won the right to host this year’s competition after winning last year with 1944, a song about the forced deportation of the ethnic group the Crimean tatars by Stalin during the Second World War. Russia tried to have the entry banned under rules that disallow political themes in the entries.

Peter Fray

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