Maruv will not represent Ukraine in Tel Aviv
In news many saw coming, contract negotiations have broken down between MARUV and Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC.
MARUV won the Ukrainian national final on Sunday with her entry 'Siren Song' finishing 2nd with the juries and 1st with televote.
However during the show she, and other contestants, were subject to questions over their allegiance to Ukraine, Crimea, Russia and their role of a spokesperson of Ukraine.
Ukraine and Russia have been in a dispute over the Crimean peninsula since 2014 with ongoing conflict still occurring in eastern Ukraine particularly in the Donbass region.
In what sometimes appeared as a public trial, acts were asked to denounce their parents and revoke their Russian ties and citizenship.
In heavy questioning by 2016 Eurovision Winner Jamala, MARUVanswered 'correctly' in terms of saying Crimea was part of Ukraine, not Russia.
However this obviously was not enough to satisfy broadcasters. Before the show announced the results they read out a statement saying that UA:PBC still had the final say in who was going to Eurovision.
Since Sunday it has been a negotiation between MARUV and the broadcaster over details in the contract. In a statement on Facebook on Monday, MARUV said she would have to (and would agree to) cancelling her concerts in Russia but also revealed UA:PBC would offer no financial assistance and would have creative control over her entry performance.
Unconfirmed reports from ESCKAZ indicated these conditions were not unusual from UA:PBC and that the no financial assistance clause had been made clear before the contest to all participants.
Regardless, contract negotiations broke down and UA:PBC announced on their site today MARUV would not be representing Ukraine in Tel Aviv, citing their concerns over her role as a cultural ambassador:
“The performer, who will represent Ukraine on the international arena, also has a commitment: after signing the contract with UA:PBC for the time of the contest the performer becomes a cultural ambassador of Ukraine and reports not only their own music, but also becomes the spokesperson for the opinion of Ukrainian society in the world. After the negotiations, UA:PBCand the singer MARUV did not find a joint decision on the mission of the representative of Ukraine at the international song contest.”
The broadcaster will now go into negotiations with another act to represent the country. The logical choice are the runner-ups of Vidbir, Freedom Jazz, although they reportedly have yet to be approached.
Ukraine has had it's national final issues before, in 2010 they held an entirely new national final and were due to do the same in 2011 with accusations of vote rigging and miscounting.
Ultimately it is up to the broadcaster to choose their representative, but it has been a damaging and troubling few days for Ukraine and the Eurovision Song Contest as a whole.
We do not know what it is like to be in a nation with ongoing armed conflict, however this level of overt and public political interference is something that must not happen in what is meant to be a non-political contest.
The act now chosen for Ukraine will now have to be the public face of the actions of the broadcaster and face some very uncomfortable questions in Tel Aviv.