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Ukrainian Authorities Give Go-Ahead To Bulgarian Eurovision Contestant

Kristian Kostov, Bulgaria's pick for this year's Eurovision Song Contest (file photo)
Kristian Kostov, Bulgaria's pick for this year's Eurovision Song Contest (file photo)

Ukrainian authorities say the Bulgarian entrant in the Eurovision Song Contest won't be banned from attending the competition's second semifinal round on May 11, although he visited Crimea -- a potential violation of Ukrainian law.

Speculation swirled on social media about Kristian Kostov's possible ban after the Russian Foreign Ministry's office in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don tweeted on May 11 that Kostov visited the Artek summer camp in Crimea on June 1, 2014.

However, the State Border Service of Ukraine said on May 11 that Kostov will be allowed to perform, because at the time of his trip to Crimea he was a minor, and Ukrainian legislation regarding the occupied peninsula came into force only at the end of 2014.

"At the time of potential visit of the Bulgarian citizen to the territory of the peninsula he wasn’t of full age, thus he couldn’t make decisions of his own and was accompanied by adults on this trip," the Border Service said in a statement published on its webpage.

"Also, legislative regulations concerning the occupied territory, which provide for liability for trespassing the border, including the prohibition on entry to Ukraine, became operative at the end of 2014," the statement said.

The Border Service said information regarding Kostov's situation was "checked and analyzed in cooperation with Ukraine's Security Service."

"The hosting broadcaster of Eurovision 2017 UA:PBC is completely ready for the second semifinal show tonight," Viktoria Sydorenko, an international public relations manager for the contest and communications director for Ukrainian broadcaster UA:First, told RFE/RL.

"We always respect decisions of Ukrainian authorities. After the investigation they informed there [are] no reasons for [the] Bulgarian singer not to perform. So we are looking forward to see all the contestants including [the] Bulgarian at the stage tonight in Kyiv," Sydorenko said.

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

Two Russian journalists who were accredited by Eurovision to cover the contest were detained at the border on May 7 and eventually turned away and barred from entering Ukraine for three years.

No reason was given for denying their entrance and Slobodyan said other Russian journalists have been admitted to Ukraine to cover the contest.

With reporting by Unian

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