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Russia Wants Review Of Ukraine's 'Unfair' Decision Barring Eurovision Singer

  • RFE/RL

Russian singer, composer and songwriter Yulia Samoilova

The Kremlin has called for a review of what it said was Ukraine's "unfair" decision to bar Russia's contestant in the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest from entering the country.

"We consider this decision to be very wrong and...we expect that this decision will be reviewed and that the Russian participant will be able to take part in this contest," Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on March 23.

The Ukrainian Security Service on March 22 said it had prohibited Yulia Samoilova from entering Ukrainian territory for three years because she had violated Ukrainian law, an apparent reference to a visit by the singer to Crimea in 2015 -- the year after Russia seized control of the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine.

Ukrainian law enables the government to ban people who have traveled to Crimea without obtaining prior permission from Kyiv. Ukraine last year blacklisted 140 Russian performing artists on those grounds.

Ukraine won the right to host this year's edition of Eurovision, a colorful annual song contest watched live on television by nearly 200 million people last year, when its contestant won in 2016. The final will be held on May 13 in Kyiv.

The Russian Foreign Ministry sharply criticized the ban on March 22, calling the Ukrainian government a "regime infected with Russophobic paranoia."

The move also drew criticism from the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), co-producer of the event with the host country each year, which said it was "deeply disappointed" over the decision.

The EBU has said it "will continue a dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities with the aim of ensuring that all artists can perform" in Kyiv.

Russian state television channel Rossia said that none of the country's national stations would broadcast the contest.

Samoilova, 27, was chosen as Russia's contestant on March 12. The singer, who suffers from a rare muscular disorder that leaves her bound to a wheelchair, performed in the Crimean city of Kerch in mid-2015.

Russia took control of Crimea in March 2014, after sending in troops and staging a referendum considered by most countries worldwide as illegitimate.

The takeover was decried in the West as an aggressive attempt to redraw European borders and upset the postwar security order, and led to the imposition of sanctions on Russia by the United States, the European Union, and other countries.

With reporting by AP, Interfax and TASS
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