The European Broadcasting Union, who organise the Eurovision Song Contest, have barred Russia from participating this year following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
According to Variety, in a statement, the EBU said: “The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has announced that no Russian act will participate in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
The Executive Board of the EBU made the decision following a recommendation earlier today by the Eurovision Song Contest’s governing body, the Reference Group, based on the rules of the event and the values of the EBU.
The Reference Group recommendation was also supported by the EBU’s Television Committee.
The decision reflects concern that, in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s Contest would bring the competition into disrepute.
Before making this decision the EBU took time to consult widely among its membership.
The EBU is an apolitical member organisation of broadcasters committed to upholding the values of public service, reports variety.com.
“We remain dedicated to protecting the values of a cultural competition which promotes international exchange and understanding, brings audiences together, celebrates diversity through music and unites Europe on one stage.”
The U-turn comes as Russia faced almost universal condemnation for its bombardment of its Eastern European neighbour, which began in the early hours of Thursday, February 24.
On Thursday, the EBU initially said both Russia and Ukraine would be welcome to compete despite a plea from the chair of Ukraine’s public broadcaster, UA:PBC, to ban Russia from both Eurovision and the EBU. As the situation looks ever bleaker, however, the EBU have now reversed that decision.
Last year’s Russian entry, Manizha, finished number 9 in the contest.
The question remains, however, whether EBU will also bar Russia from the organisation altogether.
In an open letter, published on Thursday, UA:PBC’s chair Mykola Chernotytsky wrote to EBU’s president Delphine Ernotte Cunci: “Since the beginning of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, EBU broadcasters from the Russian Federation, including Channel One and the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, have been the Kremlin’s mouthpiece and key instrument of Russian-funded political propaganda. Instead of following the values of the EBU, these broadcasters constantly and systematically spread misinformation, violate journalistic standards, spread hostility, and are a leading element of the Russian government’s information war against Ukraine and the rest of the civilised world.”
Tens of thousands of Ukrainians are fleeing to the west of the country or to neighbouring states. Still others are sheltering in subway stations and basements.
The death toll is already in three figures.
The Eurovision Song Contest 2022, the contest’s 66th edition, is set to take place in Italy on May 14.