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Russia Chooses Entry For Eurovision, Despite Boycott Threats

Russia's Eurovision pick, Yulia Samoilova, has been in a wheelchair since childhood. (file photo)
Russia's Eurovision pick, Yulia Samoilova, has been in a wheelchair since childhood. (file photo)

Russia has chosen Yulia Samoilova to represent the country at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv, an event some Russian pop stars and lawmakers wanted to boycott.

The choice of Samoilova was announced on March 12 on Russia's main state-run TV network, First Channel.

The 28-year-old singer who has been in a wheelchair since childhood won with her song The Flame Is Burning.

A wildly popular celebration of kitsch and pop music, Eurovision frequently takes on political undertones, despite organizers' efforts to avoid it.

Last year's winning entry was from a Ukrainian woman who commemorated the Crimean Tatars deported en masse from the Black Sea peninsula by Josef Stalin during World War II.

That victory gave Kyiv the honor of hosting this year's final ceremonies.

But that, plus the fact that Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and fueled a separatist insurgency in the east, added political drama to this year's decision.

Some Russian lawmakers and even pop stars have called for a boycott of the Kyiv ceremony.

The final ceremony, which is expected to be watched by hundreds of millions of viewers, will take place on May 13.

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