Ukraine Russia Eurovision drama for 2018?
Eurovision might still be over three months away but the political drama has already begun.
The characters are the same, the story familiar - the will they, won’t they affair between Russia and Ukraine.
Last year Russia attempted to send Yulia Samoylova with her song to the contest but Ukraine refused her entry as she was on a blacklist of artists who had performed in the Russian held Crimea.
So guess who the Russians have nominated to perform again this year? Yulia Samoylova.
They’re not trolling at all are they?
Ok so let’s take a step back and see why this could be an issue.
Since 2014 Russia and Ukraine has been in armed dispute over Crimea. Very simply put, the area was once part of Russia, it was then ‘gifted’ to Ukraine, Russia then wanted it back and well... took it by force.
Fast-forward to Eurovision 2016 and Ukraine win the Eurovision Song Contest with artist Jamala and her song ‘1944’ (and robbing Dami Im in the process, yes we’re still not over it). The song itself including the cheery lyrics of “They come to your house, They kill you all” and was about the forced deportation of Crimean Tatars by Soviet Stalin.
Eurovision songs aren’t allowed to be political so this caused some controversy. Some saw it as historical storytelling, some saw it as a political statement.
The Russians understandably weren’t happy about it. Their jury ranked Ukraine second last and despite their own act Sergey Lazarev winning the popular vote, they only finished third.
So when Russia named an artist the following year who they knew would be on the blacklist, it was seen as a cynical move to force the hand and embarrass Ukraine as the host nation of the 2017 contest.
And the Ukrainians didn’t hold back in expressing that - both their President Petro Poroshenko and Minister for Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin stated that believed the choice of Yulia Samoilova was a deliberate provocation by Russia.
So at this point Eurovision stepped in and came up with a solution. Yulia can sing from Moscow and we’ll just televise it like she’s in Kyiv!
Yep, didn’t work.
Russia said no and insisted she needed to be there. Ukraine said no and stated this would still contravene the Ukrainian blacklist laws.
The contest went ahead but mid-way through it was discovered Bulgarian artist Kristian Kostov had also performed in Crimea when he was a 14-year-old minor. Ukraine didn’t bar him from competing (due to his age at the time) but the Ukrainian jury went from ranking him third in the semi final to 22nd in the final…. I’m sure they weren’t influenced at all.
So let’s come back to 2018. Ukraine and Russia (with Yulia remember) are both performing at the song contest in Lisbon this year.
If Ukraine televise Yulia they would, according to their previous statements, be contravening their own blacklist law.
If they refuse to televise her they will be kicked out of the competition and may face a lengthy ban.
And to build the tension they even ended up in the same semi-final when the draw was held on Monday evening. Joy!
Can’t we just go back to when Russia sent bread baking babushkas?
We can only be hopeful they knock each other out and our very own Jessica Mauboy avoids the conflict and takes out the crown.
Only three more months of drama to find out.