Organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest have said they will not prevent Russia from participating this year.
This is despite Ukraine’s national broadcaster, UA:PBC, requesting Russia be barred from the contest.
The Eurovision Song Contest, which will host its 66th edition in Turin, Italy, in May, sees musical artists from across Europe (as well as Israel and Australia) battle it out to be crowned winner in a vote decided both by judges and the public.
The contest is organized and funded by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), whose headquarters are located in Switzerland.
Mykola Chernotytsky, chair of UA:PBC’s board, has written an open letter, published on the broadcaster’s website, addressed to EBU’s president Delphine Ernotte Cunci, which requests that Russia is banned from both the EBU and Eurovision.
“We would like to emphasize that the Eurovision Song Contest was created after the Second World War to unite Europe,” the letter reads. “In view of this, Russia’s participation as an aggressor and violator of international law in this year’s Eurovision undermines the very idea of the competition.
“Please note that Russia’s participation in this year’s competition is provided by the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, which is an instrument of the Kremlin’s power in the information war against Ukraine and constantly violates journalistic standards underlying public broadcasting. Russia’s exclusion from this large-scale song event will be a powerful response by the international community of public broadcasters to the unacceptable aggressive and illegal actions of the Russian Federation and support for the country’s state broadcasters’ hostile policy of aggression.”
Currently, however, Russia will still be welcome at the event. “The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political cultural event which unites nations and celebrates diversity through music,” organizers said in a statement, according to European press reports. “The EBU’s public broadcaster members in both Russia and Ukraine have committed to participating in this year’s event in Turin and we are currently planning to welcome artists from both countries to perform in May. We of course will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
In a separate statement, the EBU also said: “All media broadcasters and the EBU as a union are focused on doing our job for the public in difficult circumstances and will not hesitate to condemn any infringements or violations of press freedom. It is vital for journalists to be allowed to continue to operate both freely and safely, and report without hindrance. Supporting media freedom must be prioritized, not despite these challenging circumstances, but because of them.”
Italian rock band Maneskin (pictured above) won the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest.
The EBU did not respond to Variety‘s request for comment by press time.