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Belarus, Croatia, Romania Among Qualifiers For Eurovision Final

Naviband of Belarus perform the song Story Of My Life in Kyiv on May 11. The duo qualified for the final.

Performers from Belarus, Croatia, and Romania are among those who qualified for the final of the Eurovision Song Contest, Europe's largest television event.

Belarusian duo Naviband, Croatian singer Jacques Houdek, and Romania's duet of Ilinca and Alex Florea qualified on May 11 after performing at the competition’s second semifinal, which was broadcast live from the International Exhibition Center in Kyiv.

The seven other acts that qualified for the May 13 final in the Ukrainian capital were from Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Denmark, Israel, Norway, and the Netherlands.

They will join 10 other qualifiers from the first semifinal as well the so-called big five -- automatic finalists France, Germany, Spain, Britain, and Italy -- and host Ukraine.

Ukraine won the right to host the Eurovision contest and automatically qualify for the final by winning last year.

In the final, juries and viewers from all 42 participating countries will be able to vote after the 26 finalists have performed in front of an expected television audience of tens of millions.

During the show late on May 11, Macedonian entrant Jana Burceska's boyfriend went down on one knee and -- as she waited for the results of the vote by the jury and the public -- asked her to marry him. Burceska accepted the proposal, but did not qualify for the final.

Bulgarian singer Kristian Kostov earned a ticket to perform again on May 13 after Ukrainian authorities said they would take no action against him over a visit to Crimea in June 2014, weeks after Russia sent in troops and seized control of the Black Sea peninsula.

Ukrainian law enables the government to ban people who have traveled to Crimea without obtaining prior permission from Kyiv. But after considering the matter, Ukraine's border service said that Kostov was a minor when he traveled to Crimea and that the legislation governing entry to the peninsula was not yet in effect at the time.

Russian singer Yulia Samoilova had been scheduled to represent her country in the Eurovision contest, but Kyiv banned her from the country, saying she violated Ukrainian law by performing in Crimea in 2015.

Russia pulled out of the contest as a result, rejecting a compromise under which Samoilova would have been allowed to compete via satellite link.

With reporting by dpa and UNIAN
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