Russia won’t participate in Eurovision 2017, European broadcaster confirms

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has officially confirmed to RT that Russia won’t be participating in the 2017 Eurovision song contest in Kiev after the country’s contender, Yulia Samoylova, was denied entry into Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Security Service banned wheelchair bound Samoylova from entering the country for three years over her performance in Crimea in 2015 which Kiev deemed illegal. 

Earlier on Thursday, Russia’s Channel One announced that it won’t be broadcasting the 2017 Eurovision contest in the absence of the country’s competitor.

"Channel One considers the refusal by Ukraine absolutely groundless. It is an attempt by Ukraine to politicize the competition. In the current situation Channel One does not consider it possible to broadcast Eurovision 2017," the broadcaster said in a statement.

The EBU said in a statement emailed to RT, that it offered Russia two solutions to resolve the issue – “to either take part via satellite or to change their chosen artist to one who could legally travel to Ukraine for the duration of the Contest.”

“Sadly both proposals have been rejected by Channel One and they have now announced they do not intend to broadcast the Eurovision Song Contest 2017,” the statement by Eurovision organizers read.

“Unfortunately, this means Russia will no longer be able to take part in this year’s competition. We very much wanted all 43 countries to be able to participate and did all we could to achieve this,” the EBU added.

Frank Dieter Freiling, Chair of the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group, has slammed Kiev for preventing Samoylova from competing.

“We strongly condemn the Ukrainian authorities’ decision to impose a travel ban on Julia Samoylova as we believe it thoroughly undermines the integrity and non-political nature of the Eurovision Song Contest and its mission to bring all nations together in friendly competition,” he said.

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The preparation for the show will now continue without Russia, Freiling said, adding that “our top priority remains to produce a spectacular Eurovision Song Contest.”

READ MORE: Ukraine bans Russian wheelchair-using Eurovision singer from finals

The Ukrainian authorities have been claiming that Samoylova needed special permission from Kiev to perform in Crimea after the republic reunited with Russia in 2014.