As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, many fans wondered what position the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) would take on Russia’s participation at Eurovision 2022 in Turin, Italy.

In response to statements put out by both Ukraine and Sweden’s broadcasters, the EBU today announced that Russia is welcome to participate despite widespread international condemnation of the country’s invasion of its neighbor.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political cultural event which unites nations and celebrates diversity through music,” the EBU said in a statement. “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.”

Yesterday, the day Russian troops began pouring over Ukraine’s borders, Mykola Chernotytsky, chair of Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC’s board, published a statement requesting that Russia be disqualified from participating at Eurovision 2022

“We would like to emphasize that the Eurovision Song Contest was created after the Second World War to unite Europe,” Chernotytsky said. “In view of this, Russia’s participation as an aggressor and violator of international law in this year’s Eurovision undermines the very idea of the competition.”

Chernotytsky specifically referenced the Russian broadcaster’s role in disseminating misinformation – particularly false claims of Ukrainian attacks on ethnic Russians in the Donbas region – as cause for Russia’s expulsion.

“Please note that Russia’s participation in this year’s competition is provided by the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, which is an instrument of the Kremlin’s power in the information war against Ukraine and constantly violates journalistic standards underlying public broadcasting,” said Chernotytsky. “Russia’s exclusion from this large-scale song event will be a powerful response by the international community of public broadcasters to the unacceptable aggressive and illegal actions of the Russian Federation and support for the country’s state broadcasters’ hostile policy of aggression.”

With Belarus’s disqualification from Eurovision 2021 and three year suspension, there is precedent for the EBU to act if a national broadcaster violates principles of press freedom and access to factual and impartial information.

“As the situation between Russia and Ukraine escalates, access to trusted, factual and impartial information is more critical than ever,” the EBU said in a statement on its own website. “All media broadcasters and the EBU as a union are focused on doing our job for the public in difficult circumstances and will not hesitate to condemn any infringements or violations of press freedom. It is vital for journalists to be allowed to continue to operate both freely and safely, and report without hindrance. Supporting media freedom must be prioritized, not despite these challenging circumstances, but because of them.”

The EBU suspended Belarus’s state broadcaster BTRC for three years for violating the above principles in May 2021, after disqualifying Belarus’s 2021 entrant Galasy ZMesta for its song “Ya nauchu tebya (I’ll Teach You)” being deemed ineligible due to its political subject matter and flagrant support of the Alexander Lukashenko regime.

In response to both Ukraine’s request of the EBU and the EBU’s response, SVT’s CEO Hanna Stjärne expressed support for Ukraine in a statement and called on the EBU to reconsider.

“The EBU needs to rethink. I sympathize with the basic idea of ​​Eurovision as an apolitical event,” said Stjärne. “But the situation in Europe is extremely serious, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It crosses all boundaries. We have called on the EBU to change and will follow developments closely.”

Meanwhile, several Eurovision artists have either expressed their support for Ukraine or published entreaties to peace on their social media.

Russia’s Eurovision 2005 representative Natalia Podolskaya wrote on Twitter, “I want everything to be like before! When in 2005 there was Eurovision in Kiev and chestnuts were blooming.”

Latvia’s Eurovision 2021 representative Samanta Tina said on Twitter that she supports Ukraine and calls for end to the war of Russian aggression.

Many others took to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to express their outrage at the situation.

Ukraine selected Kalush Orchestra to represent them at Eurovision 2022 after a controversial national selection, where winner Alina Pash withdrew upon threat of disqualification when it was discovered that her travel documents to Russian-annexed Crimea by land crossing may have been forged (it is alleged she entered Crimea in 2015 by flight from Moscow, which is illegal per Ukrainian law).

Runners-up Kalush Orchestra were then given the option and accepted.

Russia have yet to name their entry for Eurovision 2022, usually being one of the later countries in the selection cycle. Last year’s representative, Manizha, came in 9th with “Russian Woman.”

ESC United’s position on coverage of Russia at Eurovision 2022 will be published shortly.

What do #YOU think of the EBU’s position on Russia? Do #YOU think Russia should be expelled from Eurovision, or do #YOU think that would be a “political” matter and Eurovision is an “apolitical” event? Let us know in the comments below, on social media, or in our forum.

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4 Comments

  1. […] from several countries including Ukraine had called for Russia to be expelled from the contest, but on Thursday the EBU told Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten that Eurovision is a […]

  2. […] from several countries including Ukraine had called for Russia to be expelled from the contest, but on Thursday the EBU told Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten that Eurovision is a […]

  3. […] from several countries including Ukraine had called for Russia to be expelled from the contest, but on Thursday the EBU told Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten that Eurovision is a […]

  4. […] the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) stated that Russia is “welcome to participate” at Eurovision 2022 after the invasion of its neighbor and fellow EBU member Ukraine began […]

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