Ukraine on Wednesday said it would not take part in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest after the singer selected to represent the nation dropped out following a row over Russia.
Singer MARUV won a public vote, but said she would not participate because the Ukrainian national broadcaster had imposed conditions, including a ban on concerts in Russia.
Other performers who had competed to represent Kiev in the annual competition, to be hosted this year in Tel Aviv, Israel, also refused to accept the conditions.
“National Public Broadcasting Co of Ukraine [UA PBC] is declining to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest 2019,” the broadcaster said in a statement on Wednesday.
The broadcaster said the national selection process had revealed a “systemic problem” in Ukrainian music, that artists have business links to an “aggressor state.”
Russia and Ukraine are culturally close, but political ties between the nations have been in dire straits since Moscow annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.
A conflict between Ukrainian troops and breakaway Moscow-backed rebels in the east of Ukraine has claimed about 13,000 lives since it broke out following the annexation.
National broadcaster UA PBC earlier accused MARUV, whose real name is Anna Korsun, of failing to understand her role as an ambassador who should represent Ukrainian public opinion.
“I’m a musician, not a tool in the political arena,” Korsun wrote on Instagram.
UA PBC made public some of the terms of the contract it requires the nation’s performer to sign, including a ban on “statements that may call into question the issue of territorial integrity and security of Ukraine.”
It also stipulated that the artist must not tour in Russia for three months after the contest.
“This is a crisis, to which there is no definite or correct answer, because society is divided,” Oleksandra Koltsova, a member of the board that oversees the Eurovision entry, told the Hromadske TV station.
Neither Freedom Jazz, the vocal trio who finished second in the national contest, nor KAZKA and Brunettes Shoot Blondes — the bands that came third and fourth — plan to go to Tel Aviv.
“We do not need a victory at any cost, our mission is to unite people with our music, not to sow discord,” KAZKA wrote on its Facebook page after talks with the national broadcaster.
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