Eurovision confirms it won’t ban Russia from song contest despite Ukraine invasion

Presenters Edsilia Rombley, Chantal Janzen, Jan Smit and Nikkie de Jager during the Eurovision Song Contest grand final

Eurovision has confirmed it plans to allow Russia to compete in this year’s contest despite Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The European Broadcasting Union, which produces the Eurovision Song Contest, released a statement hours after Russian forces launched what Ukraine has called a “full-scale invasion”.

Bosses underlined that the competition is a “non-political cultural event” that “unites nations and celebrates diversity through music”. As such, they planned to welcome acts from both Russia and Ukraine to the 66th Eurovision Singing Contest in May.

The statement, published Thursday (24 February), read: “The EBU’s public broadcaster members in both Russia and Ukraine have committed to participating in this year’s event in Turin and we are currently planning to welcome artists from both countries to perform in May.”

“We of course will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

The Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine (UA:PBC) called on the EBU to ban Russia from the 2022 contest, which is set to take place in Turin, Italy.

The UA:PBC alleged that Russian broadcasters have acted as a “mouthpiece for the Kremlin” and are a “key tool of political propaganda”. It also claimed Russian broadcasters have taken part in the “systemic dissemination of disinformation” against Ukraine, which it said was “contrary” to EBU’s values.

Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Thursday (24 February) in a massive assault that saw bombs rain down on targets near Ukrainian cities.

In an early-morning address on state TV, Putin announced a “special military operation” aimed at the “demilitarisation” and “denazification” of Ukraine.

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba declared that Putin had “just launched a full-scale invasion” of the country, adding that “peaceful” cities are “under strikes”.

“This is a war of aggression,” Kuleba said. “Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.”

Global leaders have condemned Russia, with NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg saying on Thursday: “This is a brutal act of war.”

Kyiv Pride, one of the country’s biggest LGBT+ rights groups, released a defiant statement as news broke of the invasion.

The LGBT+ group vowed that it will “remain strong” in the wake of the violent actions, adding “we are not intimidated”.

“Putin will break all his teeth trying to bite us,” Kyiv Pride wrote.

It continued: “We have left far behind the past to which he seeks to draw us.

“We are a country that has chosen the values of human rights, humanity, life and personality.

“Putin lives in the past, he has a place there.”

Earlier this month, Ukraine’s Eurovision initial entry Alina Pash backed out of the competition after claims emerged over her visit to the Russian-occupied Crimea in 2015. Pash was set to represent the country, but UA:PBC “suspended” her contract after allegations that she visited Crimea under falsified documents. She quit while pleading her innocence.

On Tuesday (22 February), the organising committee of Vidbir, Ukraine’s national selection process for Eurovision, announced that Kalush Orchestra will be representing the country at the singing competition.

The band finished second in the national final but won the public vote.

The Russian entry for the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest has not yet been announced.