Eurovision organizers have expelled Russia from this year’s song contest, to be held in Turin, Italy, following its invasion of Ukraine.
The decision by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to exclude Russia from the annual music event is one of many moves by cultural and sporting bodies in response to the Ukraine crisis, with cancellations, including the Friday night performance of Swan Lake by the Royal Moscow Ballet at The Helix at Dublin City University (DCU).
The EBU – the alliance of public service broadcasters including RTÉ, which is behind Eurovision – said its executive board took the decision following a recommendation from the contest’s governing body on Friday. of the song, known as the Reference Group.
The reference group’s recommendation, which it said was based on the rules of the event and EBU values, was backed by its television committee.
“The decision reflects concern that, in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian bid in this year’s competition will bring the competition into disrepute,” the EBU statement said.
“Before taking this decision, the EBU took the time to consult widely with its members.”
The organization initially signaled that Russia would be allowed to participate despite launching a military assault on its neighbour, stressing the competition was an “apolitical cultural event”, although it said on Thursday it would continue to monitor the situation.
The pressure on the organization grew, as broadcasters from the Netherlands, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Estonia joined those who made public statements backing a call from the Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC for the suspension of Russia.
UA:PBC said Russian broadcasters had been “a mouthpiece for the Kremlin”, participating in the “systematic dissemination of disinformation” against Ukraine, and that this was “contrary” to EBU values.
Russia has not yet selected a candidate, while Ukraine will be represented by the hip-hop group Kalush Orchestra and the song Stefania.
Tensions between Russia and Ukraine already spilled onto the Eurovision stage in 2016, when Ukrainian singer Jamala beat pre-contest favorites Russia with the song 1944, which documented the deportation of Crimean Tatars under Josef Stalin and has been widely interpreted as a criticism of Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine.
There were calls in Russia for the EBU to review the victory on the grounds that the song was political.
As it changed its position on Friday, the EBU reiterated that it was an “apolitical member organization of broadcasters” committed to public service values.
“We remain committed to protecting the values of a cultural competition that promotes international exchange and understanding, brings audiences together, celebrates diversity through music and unites Europe on one stage.”
Meanwhile, as she announced Swan Lake’s cancellation, DCU said it was “crucial” to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
“The Royal Moscow Ballet has toured Ireland annually for over 10 years. The company is made up of many different nationalities; Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Uzbek, Japanese, Irish and Polish cast and crew, who have traveled, worked and lived together for years,” the university said.
“However, following the truly shocking events unfolding in Ukraine, it is crucial that Dublin City University and all civilized countries take all practical steps to stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and send a message without ambiguity to the Russian people’s government that their deplorable actions have consequences that will impact the political, economic, sporting and cultural spheres at all levels.