Tuesday 14 March 2017

Russia Strikes Its Provocative Note For Eurovision In Ukraine

Russia has announced its 2017 Eurovision Song Contest entry just one day before the deadline for countries to submit their songs. They will be represented by Julia Samoylova and her song Flame Is Burning.

After a wave of strong Eurovision entries being announced in recent days, Russia’s entry has failed to match the positive responses received by Sweden, Iceland, FYR Macedonia, Israel and Azerbaijan in popularity.

Flame Is Burning has been written by Leonid Gutkin, songwriter of the Russian entries in 2013 and 2015, finishing fifth and second respectively.

Julia Samoylova, a former Russian X Factor competitor suffers from spinal muscular atrophy and will become only the second Eurovision participant to perform in a wheelchair. She was a special guest performer at the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games, and performed Serbia’s 2007 Eurovision winner Molitva in her X Factor audition.

In 2015, Poland was represented by Monika Kuczynska after she was selected to represent her country with her entry In The Name Of Love.

Monika qualified for the Eurovision final but only managed 23rd place in the Eurovision final with 10 points.

Russia has sent some of the country’s biggest stars to Eurovision in recent years supported by expensive stage production and no expense spared in a bid to win Eurovision for a second time.

The surprise choice of Julia and last minute announcement of the Russian entry has left many Eurovision fans denouncing Russia’s efforts on social media as a cynical ploy by Russia to avoid a recent trend of their performers being booed by the audience.

Following anti-LGBT laws passed in Russia, the country has struggled to win over the large LGBT fan base that attends the Eurovision Song Contest every year.

In 2014, former Junior Eurovision winners the Tolmachevy Sisters were loudly booed in Copenhagen, reducing them to tears. In 2015, Russian superstar Polina Gagarina was selected and built a friendship with Conchita Wurst. She went on to finish second behind Sweden’s Mans Zelmerlow.

Eurovision organisers have gone to great lengths to avoid politicisation of the Contest and remind those in the audience that performers are musicians and not politicians.

Last year, Russia sent another of their biggest stars to Eurovision. Sergey Lazarev was one of the favourites to win.

He won the televote but finished third behind Ukraine and Australia. Ukraine’s winning entry was called 1944 and the lyrics were about the Soviet deportation of Crimean Tatars.

This caused an outcry in Russia with Russia Today news website stating that the Ukraine’s ‘highly provocative and politicised’ song might have faced disqualification.

Russia’s participation at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest in Ukraine was always likely to cause a degree of anxiety given the political situation between the two countries. Many predicted that Russia would withdraw from the event to be held in Kyiv this May.

Further controversy over performance in Crimea

In further controversy, Julia may struggle to receive a visa to travel to Ukraine after it emerged earlier today that she performed in the disputed territory of Crimea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014. BBC News reports that a Olena Girlyanska of Ukrainian host broadcaster SBU would look into whether she will be allowed into the country.

It also reports that Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied Ulia’s selection was a deliberate provocation by Russia in a statement to Russian news agency TASS.



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