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Ukraine Bans Its Own Contestant to Eurovision Over Failure to Toe the Kiev Line on War, Pulls Out From Festival

After the initial ban 'MARUV' was offered a way to nonetheless participate -- she would have to sign a contract whereby she canceled her shows in Russia and agreed to repeat Kiev talking points on the war in East Ukraine but she declined

In a month, presidential elections will take place in Ukraine. The degree of political tension is extremely high, and Ukrainian media are brimming with front-pagers and scandalous stories about candidates who run for the presidential office.

But not only the tumultuous election campaign attracts the attention of those observers who value extravagant news from the Ukrainian state.

On Wednesday, February 27, the Ukrainian National TV and Radio company announced that they would send no representative of Ukraine to the Eurovision Song Contest which will be held in Israel in May.

The reason given in the statement issued by the Ukrainian TV and Radio Company, is quite vague at first glance – a winner of the National Eurovision Tour singer MARUV had declined signing a contract for participating in the main event in Tel-Aviv.

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The opening days of the National Eurovision tour in Ukraine were generally peaceful, when a jury was selected for the auditioning candidates who were presenting their songs in order to be chosen to participate in the final stage of the contest.

A team of judges particularly liked the female duet Anna-Maria. They are twins who quickly charmed the audience with their convincing vocal talent in a song called “My road”. But the situation changed dramatically after Anna-Maria gave an interview to the Crimean-Tatar TV channel ATR. The vocalists, who were born and raised in Crimea, refused to call the reunification of Crimea with the Russian Federation an “annexation” – as required by official speak in Ukraine. The twins also said that “there is no war between Russia and Ukraine”.

These statements caused a storm of outrage within Ukrainian political circles. Loads of accusations about “high treason” and slurs were heard from those who claim to be Ukrainian patriots. No wonder that during the final stage of the national contest, which took place the next day after their interview, Anna-Maria were no longer the jury’s favorites but outcasts from the Ukrainian music scene.

Outraged Ukrainian audiences and vocal experts who felt betrayed by the sudden and abrupt change, were then told to choose a winner without any “dirty laundry”. They eventually picked the female singer MARUV (real name – Anna Korsun) for the winning title. But their efforts were all too soon for breathing a sigh of relief.

On February 25, MARUV announced that she had officially refused signing a contract for participation at the Eurovision main contest – because she was “not ready to come up with slogans, turning participation at the Eurovision into promotion for politicians”.

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The thing is that, according to the contract, a representative of Ukraine will be forced to avoid Russian tours and concerts and be obliged instead to repeat Ukrainian political rhetoric concerning its tension with the Russian Federation at every media occasion within the Eurovision framework.

Such conditions are particularly strict and tough, because most Ukrainian singers, musicians, TV and radio spokespeople depend largely on income generated from tours to Russia. But with the “scandal” manufactured around Anna-Maria, one would think that the Ukraine was home to a population filled with pure patriotism and national pride.

The Eurovision national jury reached their conclusion too and tried once more by offering a contract to the band called “Freedom Jazz” who won second place at the contest. But that was not a helpful decision by the Eurovision team, as “Freedom Jazz” refused as well. The popular KAZKA band who took third place then received an offer from the long-suffering National Eurovision team, but the band also declined.

Thus the Ukrainian National TV and Radio Company was left with little else to do but announce its refusal to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel-Aviv.

It literally means that Ukraine has now officially and internationally admitted to its huge problems in both political and public spheres. Instead of searching for a compromise which would suit the national interests of the state and defending its international image, Ukraine has chosen a path of accusations, scandal and conflicts.

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Such quarrels seem to harm but the pride and confidence of Ukraine’s self-declared “patriots”.

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