The EBU, which broadcasts the event, stated on Friday that Russia’s inclusion in this year’s song contest “would bring the competition into disrepute”.
The broadcaster’s board made the decision to ban Russia from the competition “in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine” and after reviewing the rules and values of the event.
Russia’s exclusion from the music show comes after its prime minister Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale attack on Ukraine on Thursday.
Since then, EU leaders have imposed sanctions against Russia, with further rounds expected to follow, while major sporting events have also been cancelled in the country.
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In explaining their decision, organisers said Eurovision “promotes international exchange and understanding, brings audiences together, celebrates diversity through music and unites Europe on one stage”.
Russia’s removal from the event marked a U-turn for members of the board, who had previously remained impartial on the matter due to the apolitical nature of Eurovision.
Just one day before, the EBU said that the contest was a “non-political cultural event” and that they were intending to host participants from Russia, but their initial statement seems to have since been removed from its site.
However, as pressure mounted from other broadcasters, the EBU responded with the ban on Russian entries.
Finland’s public broadcaster Yle said on Friday that it was “pleading” with the EBU not to allow Russia to participate.
“Yle will not send a participant to the Eurovision Song Contest if Russia can participate in the competition,” it said in a statement.
Other public broadcasters in Ukraine, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Norway also called on the EBU to ban Russia from the event.
The chairman of Ukraine’s public broadcaster Suspilne, Mykola Chernotytsky, said in an open letter to the EBU that “Russia’s participation as an aggressor and violator of international law in this year’s Eurovision undermines the very idea of the competition.”
This year marks the 66th edition of Eurovision and is due to take place in Turin, Italy, after Italian rock band Måneskin won the singing competition last year.
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The last time Russia took the title was in in 2008 with Dima Bilan singing ‘Believe’, although it has recently been on of Eurovision’s best performing acts, placing in the top five over the past ten years.
Russia was favourite to win in 2016, but Crimean Tatar singer Susana Jamaladinova of Ukraine, known as Jamala, snatched the title in a surprise victory with her song about Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s deportation of hundreds of thousands of this group of people.
For 2022’s event, Ukraine’s entry is hip-hop trio Kalush Orchestra, whose song ‘Stefania’ marks a tribute to the band members’ mothers.