RUSSIA REJECTS ‘ODD’ OFFER
MOSCOW: Russia’s state-run broadcaster on Thursday quickly spurned
Eurovision’s offer for its contestant to participate in this year’s song contest via satellite after Ukraine barred the singer from entering the country.
“We find the offer of remote participation odd and refuse it, for it is going absolutely against the essence of the event,” Russia’s Channel One said.
Ukraine’s security service on Wednesday imposed a three-year entry ban on Russia’s participant, Yuliya Samoilova, 27, for illegally entering Moscow-annexed Crimea to perform in a 2015 gala concert.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organises the popular Eurovision Song Contest, had criticised Kiev’s decision to exclude Samoilova and voiced hope it would be overturned.
EBU also sought to find a solution in a bid to ease a political spat clouding the competition.
Eurovision chief Jon Ola Sand said the decision to ban an entrant was unprecedented in the contest’s sixdecade history and the satellite compromise was offered to ensure “that all artists can participate”.
“This would be the first time that we offer this solution, and hopefully the only time we need to do this.”
But, the Russian state channel, which selected Samoilova for the Eurovision contest, said the EBU “shouldn’t invent new rules for the Russian entrant in 2017”.
It said “one of the (contest) rules... reads that the song should be performed live on the stage”.
It claimed that the Eurovision rules obliged Ukraine to provide all participants with entry visas, and that Kiev’s entry ban had violated those rules.
The EBU said it had told Russia’s state-controlled Channel One that Samoilova could perform in the semi-final live via satellite.
“Should the Russian entry qualify for the Grand Final the same solution would apply.”
Sand said he understood the “situation between Ukraine and Russia”, but underscored that Eurovision “needed to keep the broadcast free of politics”.
“I think that we have managed well over the 60 years of the Eurovision contest, in different periods in Europe. We see Eurovision as the only cultural event in Europe that can bridge nations on a friendly battlefield.”