Russia rejects Eurovision’s offer of ‘satellite’ performance to barred singer

Russia's Channel One refused an offer by Eurovision Song Contest organisers to have singer Yulia Samoilova participate by satellite after Ukraine blocked her from entering the country to take part in the popular event

Russia's Channel One said it would be
Russia's Channel One said it would be "strange" for Yulia Samoilova to perform via satellite

A Russian singer who was barred from entering Ukraine has been given permission to take part in the Eurovision song contest in Kiev via satellite, but Russia’s state-controlled television has rejected the offer.

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s security service imposed a three-year entry ban on Russia’s participant, Yulia Samoilova, for illegally entering Crimea, which has been annexed by Russia, to perform in a 2015 gala concert.

The Geneva-based European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organises the contest, had criticised Kiev’s decision to exclude Samoilova.

“Taking into consideration this ban might be upheld by the Ukrainian authorities, and in order to maintain the non-political nature of the Eurovision song contest, the EBU has been working hard to find a solution to this situation,” the organisation said on Thursday.

The EBU had “taken the unprecedented move to offer Channel One Russia the opportunity for Julia to still participate in this year’s contest by performing live in the second semi-final via satellite”, it said.

“Should the Russian entry qualify for the grand final the same solution would apply … This is something that has never been done before in the contest’s 60-year history.”

However, Channel One rejected the offer, calling it "strange".

"It completely contradicts the very essence of the event," Channel One added.

Samoilova said she was keeping her spirits up. “Overall I’m not upset,” Samoilova told Channel One state-controlled television, which selected her as Russia’s contestant. “I will keep going. I somehow think that everything will change.”

Samoilova said she could not understand why Ukrainian authorities saw “some kind of threat in a little girl like me”.

The contest in Kiev comprises two semi-finals on 9 and 11 May, followed by the final on 13 May.