Ukraine has blocked Russia’s entrant from competing in Eurovision

Ukraine has banned Russia’s Eurovision contestant from entering the country on the grounds that she has violated Ukrainian law.

Yulia Samoylova was due to compete in this year’s competition in May with the song ‘Flame Is Burning’, but has now been banned from the country for three years. She had previously toured in the Russia-annexed Crimea, which she entered via Russia instead of using the border on the Ukrainian mainland. Under Ukrainian law, this allows authorities to block her entry into the country.

The European Broadcasting Union (the body behind Eurovision) has since released a statement relaying their disappointment and shock at the decision.

“It has been confirmed to the EBU that the Ukrainian authorities have issued a travel ban on the Russian artist chosen for the Eurovision Song Contest, Julia Samoylova, as she has been judged to have contravened Ukrainian law by entering Crimea in order to perform,” they said. 

“We have to respect the local laws of the host country, however we are deeply disappointed in this decision as we feel it goes against both the spirit of the Contest, and the notion of inclusivity that lies at the heart of its values.”

Tensions between Russian and Ukraine have been at an all time high since Russia occupied Crimea (a territory of Ukraine) back in March of 2014, which sparked outbursts of violence in the east of the country.

Last year, Ukraine’s Eurovision entrant Jamala controversially won the competition with the song ‘1994’, with addressed Joseph Stalin’s mass deportation of Crimean Tatars during WWII. The win outraged Russia, who then threatened to boycott the competition.

Ukraine has now reportedly blacklisted over 140 Russian musicians – ostensibly to effectively ban the country from competing this year. Another 2017 contestant, Armenia’s Artsvik Arutunyan, is also facing scrutiny from Ukrainian Security Services over similar visits to Crimea, and is potentially facing a ban as well.

Eurovision takes place in Kyiv on May 11 to 13.