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Despite sanctions threat Ukraine digs in on Russian Eurovision ban

Though told by the Eurovision Song Contest organisers that Ukraine risks being banned from future competitions, and despite rumours that some participants are now considering boycotting the forthcoming Contest in Kiev unless Ukraine changes its stance, Ukraine still refuses to grant a visa to Russian contestant Yulia Samoilova to attend this year’s Contest.

The political origin of the decision to refuse Samoilova a visa has now been made even clearer by a public statement of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin refusing any concessions to allow Samoilova to participate in the Contest.  So far as I can recall, it is unheard of for the foreign minister of any country to comment on such a question involving the Contest.  If the Ukrainian government were not involved one would expect statements of such a nature to be made either by Ukraine’s border control authorities or by the organisers of the Contest in Kiev.

At this point I cannot help but note that some Western media outlets have reported that it was the Russians who rejected the idea that Samoilova compete in the Contest via satellite, without mentioning that the Russians only did this after the Ukrainian government had already signalled its rejection of the idea.

Though the Western media (at least in Britain) has downplayed its reporting of this story, there is no doubt Ukraine’s intransigence over this issue has done it harm.  European Broadcasting Union (EBU) Director General Ingrid Deltenre – hardly someone who might be expected to be unsympathetic to Ukraine – has pointed this out in a letter to Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman

The current situation is causing anger amongst our Members – European Broadcasters across Europe – and we have received communication from a number of them criticizing the decision and considering to withdraw from the event.

It seems that Deltrene also pointed out in the same letter that Ukraine is doing its international reputation great harm because of the stance it is taking, and that no other country has ever prevented a Contest participant from taking part before.

None of this appears to be cutting any ice in Kiev.  Given the extent to which ultra-right ‘activists’ with their pathologically anti-Russian views are making the running that is completely unsurprising.  It seems that the Ukrainian authorities are more concerned to appease them then they are to spare Ukraine the damage to its image this affair is doing it even amongst its friends.

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