By: +David Herron; Date: April 7, 2017
What's the political problem? It stems from the winning entry in 2016 plus the Ukraine/Russia war plus Russia's annexation of Crimea. Bottom line - Ukraine is banning the Russian entry from entering Ukraine, which is setting off a political firestorm.
The 2016 Ukraine entry had a fantastic song about her family's history as Crimean Tatars. In 1944, Russia committed an ethnic cleansing (nearly genocide) claiming the Tatar's had cooperated with Germany during WWII. Russia punitively packed up all the Tatar's and shipped them to Kazakhstan, and many thousands died during the journey. It was a trail of tears story like many others experienced by many other peoples over the millennia.
The song was not found to run afoul of the EBU's rule prohibiting political songs in Eurovision. It was a tough call, since it so closely bordered on being political while being the singers family story. During the voting there was serious suspense about the winner until the very end. The Australia, Russia, and Ukraine entries were all very strong, and up intil the very last step of the voting Russia looked like the winner. When the very last result came in, suddenly the Ukraine entry swung way ahead. It was amazing - it is a beautiful song, much better than the Russian entry.
Russia spent several days in the press claiming the result was politically motivated, or that the voting process was corrupt, or something. Sore losers in other words.
The problem today is that Russia and Ukraine are still fighting a war over Eastern Ukraine. A war that Russia has yet to acknowledge they're participating in. Oh, and Crimea was illegally annexed by Russia. And, Ukraine passed a law concerning the only legal way to travel to Crimea is through a particular checkpoint in Ukraine. The Russian singer is in violation of that law, having traveled to Crimea through a non-approved route in order to play a concert last year. As a result, Ukraine is not allowing the Russian entry into Ukraine to participate in the contest.
And, some of what I said in that paragraph might incense some readers. What I said is the result of having read/viewed lots of different news reports about the war in the Donbass. It's clear that while most of the troops are locals of the Donbass region, that Russia sends in troops when it needs to bolster those forces. It's not Russia's style to openly fight a war, instead they skirt around legalities and the truth and do things in a sneaky-sneaky-sly manner. Putin was KGB, remember, meaning he comes from the covert spy end of the universe.
In any case, Ukraine, Russia and the EBU are currently feuding over what to do. And I've spent way too long writing about this. On with the songs.
UPDATE: We watched these songs this evening -- and are totally blown away by the Russian song. There are some very good songs in this line-up, but the Russian entry is by far the absolute best. And, to have it excluded by Ukraine, wow what can one say.