Most people do like watching reality shows, contests and singing competitions. Watching Eurovision is another way to enjoy your evening. Eurovision is a singing competition, where each participating country sends one performer to represent themselves. The songs are brand new, meaning that they have been written just for the contest. Although it seems very simple, recently, Eurovision has caused a new political scandal.
This year, Eurovision will be held in Kiev, Ukraine, as the singer representing Ukraine, Jamala, has won last year’s completion. She won with the song called 1944, about the Joseph Stalin’s mass deportation of Crimean Tatars during World War Two. Her winning has caused a lot of controversial opinions among Russian viewers and the media. Some stated that the win was a political move from the organizers of the competition. Some even claimed that Ukraine has paid to win the contest. Although only a month later this situation was forgotten, the Russian-Ukrainian scandal surrounding Eurovision recently became quite a hot topic in world news. The issue that caused the scandal was Ukraine banning Russian contestant Julia Samoylova from entering the territory of Ukraine for three years, meaning, she will not be able to participate in the contest. Not going deep into why and how this happened, one might think that Ukraine made a bad move, has no right to do so, and is just scared that Julia will win Eurovision this year, as it is said in some media. However, the whole issue between the countries and the Russian contestant herself is far more interesting than that.
First of all, let’s look at the reasons why Julia Samoylova is not allowed to enter Ukraine. As you may know, three years ago the territory of Crimea was annexed by Russia. Most countries still do not accept that, and one of the Ukrainian laws states that a person can enter Crimea only through the territory of Ukraine, otherwise, they are banned from entering the country. Julia Samoylova indeed “illegally” entered Crimea from Russian territory, when she had a singing tour. So, she broke that law, which is the reason for the ban.
Next, the discussion between the countries and reaction of Russia as well is an interesting thing to have a look at. Obviously, Ukraine’s decision was not liked by Russia. The foreign minister called this ban inhumane and outrageous, especially when the topic of this year’s contests is “Celebrate Diversity,” and Julia Samoylova uses a wheelchair. Moreover, one of the members of Russian parliament is demanding that the contest is moved to another country, while another one claimed that Russia will boycott the contest. The European Broadcasting Union, who are the organizers of the Eurovision contest, are doing their best in resolving this situation. Unfortunately, as they stated themselves, the local laws of the host country should be respected and followed, so nothing can be done as Julia indeed broke them. However, they are continuing the dialogue with Ukraine in order to make sure that all participants, including Julia, can participate. One of the suggestions they made was that Julia would perform live in Russia and that would be broadcasted by the satellite. This decision was not supported by the Russian side. Now, the EBU is trying to persuade Ukraine on letting Julia enter the country and perform. They also stated that if a solution is not found, the future of Ukraine participating in the contest will be under question.
Another interesting detail of the decision of the participant from Russia is that Julia was chosen through an “internal process” whereas all the years before it was decided upon by national votes. In addition to this, her candidature never occurred when the Eurovision 2017 was discussed. I personally saw several contestants, and Julia was not among them, on the internet who were said to be competing for the right to represent Russia this year. Moreover, she was announced as a representative for the country just one day before the deadline, meaning that there is no option of changing the contestant. Some of the media sources also found the choice of the contestant weird for Russia, as usually, huge stars represent the country; whereas Julia is not a famous figure in the Russian show-business.
Some people support the fact that Julia has been chosen expressively in order to heat up the tension between the countries, as it was known to Russia that she would be mostly likely banned from entering the territory of Ukraine. Even if this seems a bit crazy, the Russian media definitely is one of the proofs of this theory. In Russian media, nothing is said about Julia breaking Ukrainian law, and the situation is presented as Ukraine not letting her to the country just because. Others think that it’s Ukraine’s fault and there are no reasons not to let Julia Samoylova perform in Kiev. The media and the people themselves are divided into two opposite opinions: Ones who support Julia and Russia, and ones who think that it was a correct decision to ban the singer. If you ask my opinion, I do think that Julia just became a figure in the hands of politicians, which is not, in any case, a decent behavior. Another thing I do not understand is why EBU wants to ban Ukraine from participating in future contests when the country is simply following the laws; which was again supported by the EBU itself.
The Eurovision contest has always been a fun thing to watch in the evening, open some new artists and some easy fun songs. Moreover, it was the show with no drama involved, which is so rare for modern television. Unfortunately, nowadays, a lot of simple things get involved in politics and Eurovision is not an exception. Of course, you could see some politics before with the way the votes from the countries were given to each other, but it was a tiny little thing that did not cause any controversy when now it is clearly a new field for politicians. The saddest and the most striking thing for me is that only in certain countries, like Russia and Ukraine, this contest is taken with such seriousness. Still, for most people, it is just an enjoyable show with no political background involved, and I hope that it will become that way again.