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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.”

Yuliya Samoilova

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