Russia’s state broadcaster has expressed its readiness to boycott this year’s Eurovision song contest after the host country, Ukraine, said it would bar entry to the Russian contestant and Moscow rejected two possible compromises suggested by the organisers.
Ukraine said Russian singer Yulia Samoylova could not travel to Kiev for the competition next month because she had performed in Crimea after the region was annexed by Russia.
Moscow accused Ukraine of discriminating against Samoylova and of breaching the contest’s rules. The contest organisers also condemned the Ukrainian decision but said the event will go ahead.
Russia’s Channel One, the state broadcaster that transmits the contest to large Russian audiences, said organisers had offered the option of sending a different contestant or of having Samoylova perform via video link from Moscow.
“In our view this represents discrimination against the Russian entry, and of course our team will not under any circumstances agree to such terms,” said Yuri Aksyuta, the station’s chief producer for musical and entertainment programmes.
“Naturally, we are not taking part in the Eurovision 2017 competition under the terms that are being offered to us, and we will not broadcast it either,” he said.
“The absence of a Russian participant, in my view, is a very serious blow to the reputation of the contest itself, and for Russian viewers it is also another reason not to pay attention to the contest.”
The annual singing contest attracts millions of television viewers across Europe. For many countries, especially former Communist states in Europe, performing well in the event is seen as a matter of national pride.