Ukraine has announced it will not participate in the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest amid a scandal in its national selection process.
The National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine said on February 27 that Ukraine would not participate after singer Anna Korsun, who performs under the name Maruv and who won the domestic selection process, refused to sign a contract stipulating that she would not perform in Russia for at least three months after the competition and pledging not to make any "statements that may call into question the issue of the territorial integrity and security of Ukraine."
Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been strained over Moscow's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and Russia's military, political, and economic support of separatist entities in parts of eastern Ukraine. That conflict, which the International Criminal Court ruled in November 2016 was "an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation," has left some 13,000 people dead, according to the United Nations.
Maruv withdrew from Eurovision consideration on February 25, accusing the authorities of "censorship."
The performers who came in second, third, and fourth place all refused to take Maruv's spot in the competition, which will be held in Israel in May.
Eurovision has been a field of conflict between Russia and Ukraine in the past.
In 2016, Ukraine infuriated Russia by submitting a ballad by singer Jamala that described the brutal 1944 Soviet deportation of the Crimean Tatars.
Russian officials argued that the song should have been disqualified under rules forbidding political content in performances.
When that entry won the competition, Kyiv hosted the 2017 rendition and refused to allow the Russian contestant to enter the country because she had performed in Crimea after the annexation.