UKRAINE – There will be no Ukrainian participant at the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest that will take place in Tel Aviv on May 14-18.
Such a decision was made on Feb. 27 by the National Public Television and Radio Company that is the song contest’s partner in Ukraine. The company had to do it after the national contest to select a Ukrainian participant for the Eurovision derailed.
On Feb. 23, a Ukrainian singer Maruv won the national selection and the right to represent Ukraine at 2019 Eurovision. However, her victory led to a scandal due to her political views: the singer was lambasted for performing in Russia – something that many Ukrainian stars stopped doing in protest of Russia’s war against Ukraine that has been on since 2014 and killed over 13,000 people. She also made anti-war statements.
So two days after her victory, Maruv turned down the nomination, saying that the contract that the National Public TV and Radio Company wanted her to sign as the country’s representative was too rigorous, allegedly giving the company too much control over the singer and her performance at Eurovision. The company said the contract had a clause that banned the representative from performing in Russia for several months after the contest in May.
The company approached the bands that came second and third in the national selection, Freedom Jazz and Kazka, but both refused to go to Eurovision.
“A victory at any price isn’t what we want,” Kazka said in a statement.
Zurab Alasania, the CEO of the National Public TV and Radio Company, said the company has the right to appoint a representative without a competition, but it decided that doing so would be disrespectful to the public who voted for the participants of the national selection.
Alasania said that he hoped it would start a national discussion about the issue of Ukrainian artists performing in Russia during the war.
“Ukrainian laws don’t limit our performers’ work in Russia, but there is a public demand to settle this issue,” Alasania said on Feb. 27. “For one part of society it is acceptable, and for the other part is causes outrage.”
Official EBU statement
“Each participating broadcaster is responsible for the selection of their act for the Eurovision Song Contest in accordance to the rules set out by the European Broadcasting Union. It is with sadness that the EBU can confirm that Ukraine’s broadcaster UA:PBC has informed the EBU that, following further discussions, they have made the difficult decision to withdraw from the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest. There will be further discussions between the EBU and UA:PBC on this matter but we hope to see them again in 2020. However, for now, we look forward to what is already shaping up to be a fantastic event in Tel Aviv in May.”