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Ukraine has excluded Russia’s entry for the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest.
The Eurovision Song Contest is a yearly singing competition among participants from European Union (EU) countries. Russia’s representative in this year’s installment was Yulia Samoylova [yool-yuh sam-ee-loh-vuh], a 27-year-old handicapped singer. However, host country Ukraine banned Samoylova from the competition upon learning that she had performed in Crimea / kraɪˈmi ə / in 2015.
Tensions between the two countries began when Russia obtained Crimea, which borders along southern Ukraine. The dispute continued following the armed conflict between Ukrainian capital Kiev / ˈki ɛf / and eastern Ukraine, which is controlled by Russia-supported separatists. Because stepping into Crimea without Kiev’s permission is considered illegal, Samoylova was banned not only from joining this year’s competition, but also from entering Ukraine for three years.
There was already a history of hostility between Russia and Ukraine in the contest. In 2016, Russia called Ukraine out for choosing a Crimean as a representative in the competition. Jamala, the Crimean representative, performed a song that exposed war-time deportations of Tatars – an ethnic group in Crimea – in the hands of Russian leader Joseph Stalin in the 1940s.
There were accusations that Samoylova was selected to infuriate Ukraine. However, Russia argued that Channel One, which broadcasts Eurovision, selected Samoylova as a participant.
Eurovision prohibits songs that contain political connotations. In 2009, a participant from Georgia, which also had tense relations with Russia, was pulled out from the competition. Her entry “We Don’t Wanna Put In” stirred controversy for its alleged mockery of former Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin.