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Ukraine Selects Crimean Tatar For Eurovision Song Contest

  • RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

The Crimean Tatar singer Jamala has been chosen to represent Ukraine at the Eurovision song contest in Sweden in May.

Jamala, whose real name is Susana Jamaladinova, will perform her song 1944, which is about Josef Stalin's deportation of Crimean Tatars to Central Asia.

Her song uses English lyrics with a chorus sung in Crimean Tatar.

Jamala -- who was born in Osh, Kyrgyzstan -- was chosen on February 21 from among five other contestants.

Jamala received the second-highest score from the judges and the highest from viewers voting via text message -- even though most Crimean Tatars were unable to cast ballots because of the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.

In Focus: Crimean Tatar Singer Hopes To Take People's Tragedy To Eurovision

Russian authorities kicked Ukrainian telecom companies out of the region after their takeover of the peninsula.

More than 250,000 Crimean Tatars were stuffed into train cars and sent to Central Asia in May 1944.

Tens of thousands died during the trip and thousands more perished from hunger and disease shortly after their arrival.

WATCH: Jamala Performs A Cappella Version Of 1944

Crimean Tatars were not allowed to return to Crimea until the 1980s, but most came in the 1990s after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

With reporting by AP
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