Entertainment & Arts

Ukraine bans its Eurovision entrant over Russia row

Maruv Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Maruv said she did not want her appearance to be "a political promotion"

Ukraine's entrant for the Eurovision Song Contest, Maruv, has been dropped in a row related to tensions between her country and Russia.

Maruv's song, Siren Song, won a public vote on Saturday, but the singer later fell out with the country's national broadcaster.

She was given 24 hours to sign a contract that temporarily barred her from playing in Russia.

Talks stalled on Monday and the broadcaster revoked Maruv's nomination.

The 27-year-old, whose name real name is Anna Korsun, said she was prepared to cancel her next tour of Russia, but that other stipulations in the contract amounted to "censorship".

"I am a citizen of Ukraine, pay taxes and sincerely love Ukraine," she wrote on Facebook.

"But I am not ready to address [people] with slogans, turning my participation in the contest into the promotion of our politicians. I am a musician, rather than a tool of the the political stage."

The star, whose song has been watched 6.8 million times on YouTube, added: "I sincerely thank and appreciate everyone who believed in me and voted.

"I ask you to accept this situation and not to take a confrontational path."

In a statement, the state-funded UA:PBC said: "The performer representing Ukraine... also has commitments of becoming a cultural ambassador of Ukraine and delivering not only their music but also expressing the opinion of the Ukrainian society in the world.

"After the negotiations, UA:PBC and the singer Maruv have not found common ground in the mission of the representative of Ukraine at the international song contest."

It added that Eurovision rules demand that the state broadcaster "must ensure the non-political character of the contest" and that it foresaw "a danger of escalation of the split of the Ukrainian society" over Maruv's selection.

The TV station was backed by politicians, with the Ukrainian Culture Ministry saying only "patriots who are aware of their responsibility" should be allowed to sing at Eurovision.

UA:PBC said it would start negotiations with another contestant to represent the country.

The 2019 Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Israel in May.

Why are relations so bad between Russia and Ukraine?

Ukraine gained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. However, Russia considers a Western-leaning Ukraine a threat to its interests.

In 2014 Ukraine's pro-Russian leader was overthrown, after large-scale protests against the government's decision to abandon plans to sign an association agreement with the EU.

Russia then annexed Crimea, while Russia-backed separatists moved against the Ukrainian state in the east.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict in the east.

Ukraine hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 2017 and barred Russia's entrant from performing at the event.

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