Eurovision Faces Pressure To Ban Russia From Contest As Finland And Estonia Threaten To Withdraw

Broadcasters for Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and The Netherlands have all spoken out in solidarity with Ukraine.

Eurovision organisers are facing pressure to expel Russia from this year’s competition, following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Thursday, a spokesperson for the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said the organisation intended to allow Russia to compete in 2022, insisting the contest was a “non-political cultural event which unites nations and celebrates diversity through music”.

Eurovision 2022 is set to take place in Turin
Eurovision 2022 is set to take place in Turin
Robin Utrecht/Shutterstock

A representative said: “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.”

They added that they would “of course... continue to monitor the situation closely”.

Since then, broadcasters for countries including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and The Netherlands have all condemned the decision, joining Ukraine in calling for Russia’s suspension from the EBU, meaning they would not be able to participate in 2022.

Finland and Estonia have also become the first nations to say outright that they will withdraw from the competition if Russia remains part of it.

Ville Vilén of the Finnish state broadcaster YLE said (via Wiwibloggs): “Russia’s attack on Ukraine is contrary to all the values that Yle and other European broadcasters represent. Yle always defends Western democracy, the rule of law, freedom of expression and human dignity.

“Yle cannot take part in an event where Russia, which has blatantly attacked these values, can use one of Europe’s best-known brands to advance its own interests. I hope that the EBU will act in accordance with its values here.”

The chairman of Estonia’s ERR also said (per EuroVoix News): “It is inconceivable that Estonia will participate in Eurovision in a situation where Russia participates there.”

Hanna Stjärne of Sweden’s STV said on Thursday night: “I understand the idea of Eurovision as an apolitical event. However, the situation in Europe is very serious because of the Russian invasion. We have demanded that the EBU change its position.”

A rep for Dutch station AVROTROS also stated: “This is the time that Europe should unite and show what we stand for. Russia’s military actions no longer stand for politics — this about a gross violation of universal values like independence and human rights.

“I ask other countries to also speak up and call on the EBU to suspend Russia’s membership, whereby they can no longer take part in the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin.”

Meanwhile, Latvian representatives Citi Zēni revealed that they had also sent an email to the EBU urging them to change their position on Russia’s involvement in Eurovision.

“[We] are requesting you to reconsider the participation of the delegation of the Russian Federation in the upcoming event in May,” they wrote.

“We believe that Eurovision is about peace, entertainment and love. It is completely in opposition with the politics currently conducted by the governing bodies of the Russian Federation. In our opinion it is not correct to be sending an artist to one EBU country, while an army is being deployed to another.”

The Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC previously said in a statement that it had called on the EBU to exclude Russia from taking part in the forthcoming contest.

It claimed Russian broadcasters had been “a mouthpiece for the Kremlin and a key tool of political propaganda” and have taken part in “systematic dissemination of disinformation” against Ukraine, “contrary” to the values of the EBU.

HuffPost UK has also contacted the BBC for comment.

This year’s competition will take place in Turin, following Italian rock group Måneskin’s victory in 2021.

Last week, the act chosen to represent Ukraine in Turin withdrew from representing her country after facing scrutiny over a reported 2015 visit to Russia-occupied Crimea.

Alina Pash had been chosen in a televised national selection show and was due to perform her song Shadows Of Forgotten Ancestors, but pulled out after details of the trip emerged.

People who enter the territory via Russia are considered by Ukraine to have illegally crossed the border. There is no suggestion that Pash entered Crimea from Russia.

She was replaced by rap group Kalush Orchestra with the song Stefania. Russia has not yet announced its act.

Eurovision has often reflected geopolitical tensions and conflict between Russia and Ukraine has played out at the event in previous years.

In 2017, Julia Samoylova was chosen to represent Russia in the annual singing competition, which took place in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

She was blocked from the country because she had reportedly toured Crimea without entering it through the border with the Ukrainian mainland.

Russian television station Channel One then announced it would not broadcast the contest or take part.

Possible solutions that were suggested by the EBU included Samoylova performing by satellite from Russia or for her to be replaced by a contestant who could legally travel to Ukraine. Channel One reportedly rejected both options.

This article has been updated to include comments from the chairman of Estonia’s ERR.


What's Hot