Eurovision 2017 will take place in Kyiv on May 13, hosted by Ukrainian national broadcaster Timur Miroshnychenko. Ukraine will be represented by Ukrainian rock band O. Torvald with the song Time.
The Eurovison contest has long been the subject of criticism regarding both its musical and political content. And with last year’s winner, Eurovision once again was accused of “political messaging.”
Critics considered Jamala's song a political jab at Russia, despite containing no reference to Russia’s current aggression against Ukraine. Jamala’s song, 1944, is the story of the forcible removal by Stalinist troops of Crimean Tatars, including her grandmother, from Crimea during WWII. But the European Broadcasting Union cleared the song, saying it contained no political message.
Nevertheless, the historical tension between Ukraine and Russia at Eurovision was only exacerbated by Jamala’s win last year, and has continued unabated.
This year Russia pulled out of the competition, in a thinly veiled attempt to poison Ukraine’s relations with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which runs the contest.
The Russian entrant, a wheelchair-bound singer named Yuliya Samoylova, was banned from entering Ukraine for three years after her tour of Crimea in 2015 (deemed illegal by Ukraine), and her obvious support for Putin’s aggression against Ukraine.
The Russian entry was a last-minute surprise, and did not sit well with Eurovision fans. Many saw it as a cynical ploy to avoid a recent trend of being booed by the live audience, and shared their displeasure widely on social media.
Surprisingly, EBU officials have condemned Ukraine for imposing the travel ban against Samoylova., and even threatened to ban Ukraine from future competitions.
It is outrageous that the EBU would hold Ukraine responsible for Russia’s belligerence and find fault with any country upholding its own laws.
Russia was graciously presented with two solutions which would allow it to participate: either select a different contestant (who didn't break Ukrainian law) or have Samoylova (who did break Ukrainian law) broadcast her song via video link and thus remain in the competition.
It is hardly Ukraine’s fault that Russia refused both options, choosing to act in bad faith instead.
But the show must go on, and this year's Eurovision song contest will take place as scheduled in Kyiv on May 13th.
The Eurovision Song Contest will be broadcast in the U.S. for a second consecutive year on Viacom’s Logo. The three-and-a-half-hour 2017 Grand Final will air live and commercial free on Saturday, May 13 at 12pm Pacific Time.
Here is Ukraine’s 2017 entry, Time, to be performed by the Ukrainian rock band O. Torvald.
To hear more about Ukraine’s participation and musical entries in Eurovision, download or live stream the April 29, 2017 Vancouver edition of Nash Holos Ukrainian Roots Radio here.