Ukraine moots Eurovision pull-out in row over Russia
Ukraine has raised the possibility of pulling out of the Eurovision Song Contest as its national selection process has become embroiled in politics and tensions over Russia.
The singer who won Ukraine’s public vote dropped out on Tuesday in a dispute with national broadcaster UA PBC which accused her of “politicising” the competition, which will take place in Israel in May.
“This is a crisis, to which there is no definite or correct answer, because society is divided,” Oleksandra Koltsova, a member of the board at the public broadcaster that selects the Eurovision entry, told Hromadske national television.
Asked who might represent Ukraine, Koltosova said: “Maybe no one.”
The latest debacle comes after Kiev in 2017 as the competition’s host refused to let Russia’s entry cross its border because she had performed in Moscow-annexed Crimea.
Ukraine meanwhile infuriated Russia with its own entry: a ballad about the Soviet deportation of Crimea’s indigenous Tatar population under Joseph Stalin.
This year the winner selected in a televised heat on Saturday, Anna Korsun, whose stage name is MARUV, said conditions for her participation included a ban on concerts in Russia.
“I’m a musician, not a tool in the political arena,” she wrote on Instagram.
The national broadcaster in turn accused Korsun — who has performed in Russia and made provocative comments about Ukraine’s war with Moscow-backed separatists — of failing to understand her role as an ambassador who should represent Ukrainian public opinion.
On Wednesday, the broadcaster made public some of the terms of the contract it requires the country’s performer to sign, including a ban on “statements that may call into question the issue of territorial integrity and security of Ukraine.”
It also stipulated that the artist must not tour in Russia for three months after the contest.
Several other performers in the national heat have since refused to represent Ukraine.
Neither Freedom Jazz, the vocal trio who finished second in the national contest, nor KAZKA and Brunettes Shoot Blondes — the bands that came third and fourth in the heat — will go to Tel Aviv.
“We do not need a victory at any cost, our mission is to unite people with our music, not to sow discord,” KAZKA wrote on its Facebook page after talks with the national broadcaster on Wednesday.
The largely European song competition, which dates back to the 1950s, is typically hosted each May by the previous year’s winner.
Countries have until March 10 to submit their entries for Eurovision.