(Adds comment from contest organisers, Kremlin)
MOSCOW, April 14 Russia's state broadcaster has
said it will 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
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
"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.
Kiev said that Samoylova has violated Ukraine's borders by
entering Crimea without seeking permission from the Ukrainian
authorities. Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014, but all but a
handful of countries consider it part of Ukraine.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov expressed "regret that the
Eurovision organisers have turned out to be unable to fulfil the
terms of their own rules," and compel Ukraine to allow Samoylova
to travel to Kiev.
The organisers of the contest, the European Broadcast Union
(EBU), said in a statement they had done everything in their
power so that all eligible countries could take part.
"We strongly condemn the Ukrainian authorities' decision to
impose a travel ban on Julia Samoylova as we believe it
thoroughly undermines the integrity and non-political nature of
the Eurovision Song Contest," Frank Dieter Freiling, chairman of
the event’s steering committee, said in statement released by
"However, preparations continue apace for the Eurovision
Song Contest in the host city Kyiv. Our top priority remains to
produce a spectacular Eurovision Song Contest."
(Additional reporting by Denis Pinchuk; Writing by Christian
Lowe; Editing by Hugh Lawson)