This week has seen the Eurovision Song Contest in full swing, with semi-finals beginning in host country Italy on Tuesday, May 10 ahead of the grand final on Saturday, May 14. But one country is missing from the list of those taking part, for the first time since 1994 – Russia.
For some, it may come as no surprise to see that the country which invaded Ukraine earlier this year – leading to a conflict which has so far lasted almost 80 days – left out of the competition. The European Broadcasting Union announced well before the competition even began that Russia would no longer participate in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest following the invasion of Ukraine.
A statement from the body, which produces the competition, said back in February: “The Executive Board of the EBU made the decision following a recommendation earlier today by the Eurovision Song Contest’s governing body, the Reference Group, based on the rules of the event and the values of the EBU.
“The Reference Group recommendation was also supported by the EBU’s Television Committee. The decision reflects concern that, in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s Contest would bring the competition into disrepute. Before making this decision the EBU took time to consult widely among its membership. The EBU is an apolitical member organisation of broadcasters committed to upholding the values of public service.
“We remain dedicated to protecting the values of a cultural competition which promotes international exchange and understanding, brings audiences together, celebrates diversity through music and unites Europe on one stage.”
Russia competed in the competition last year, with their entry Manizha, who donned a giant dress on wheels and sang a song named ‘Russian Woman’. She placed 9th in the competition, scoring 204 points. The year before that, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Eurovision song contest was cancelled and none of the chosen entries could compete – this meant that Russia’s entry (one of the favourites to win at the time) Little Big weren’t able to try their luck at what some argued to be the country’s best chance of winning the competition in years.
This year, favourites to win (not-surprisingly) include Ukraine whose entry is the Kalush Orchestra, made up of rapper Oleh Psiuk, multi-instrumentalist Ihor Didenchuk, sopilka player Vitalii Duzhyk, vocalists Tymofii Muzychuk and Oleksandr Slobodianyk and dancer Vlad Kurochka. Ukraine placed fifth at the 2021 Eurovision Grand Final, with a respectable 364 points, thanks to their entry ‘Go_A’ with song ‘Shum’.