MOSCOW, Russia — A decision by the organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest to drop Russia from this year’s contest following a spat with Ukraine was roundly denounced by Moscow on Friday.
Russia’s state-run Channel One said Thursday it would not broadcast the event, after rejecting proposals for contestant Yulia Samoilova to take place via video link or be replaced after Ukraine slapped her with an entry ban.
In response, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) then confirmed Russia “will no longer be able to take part in this year’s competition.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov lashed out at the organizers for failing to make Kiev accept the Russian performer.
“We express regret that the Eurovision organizers could not fulfill the conditions of their own rules and were unable to call upon the country that expressed willingness to hold the contest to observe the rules on hosting,” Peskov said.
Kiev barred Russia’s 28-year-old entrant Samoilova from entering the country for performing a concert on the Crimea peninsula in 2015 after it was annexed from Ukraine by Moscow.
Channel One said Thursday it was dropping the competition from its schedule, slamming Ukraine’s entry ban on Samoilova as “absolutely groundless” and intended to “politicize” the glitzy event.
The broadcaster, which selected Samoilova as Russia’s contestant, said it had rejected an offer from the EBU for the singer to compete via video link or for Russia to choose another entrant.
Former Soviet neighbors Russia and Ukraine have been at loggerheads since Moscow seized Crimea in 2014 and was then accused by Kiev and the West of fueling a separatist conflict in the east of the country that has killed some 10,000 people.
The EBU had earlier threatened to bar Ukraine from future competitions and insisted it “strongly” condemned Ukraine’s ban on Samoilova since “it thoroughly undermines the integrity and non-political nature of the Eurovision Song Contest.”
“However, preparations continue apace,” the organizer said.
“Our top priority remains to produce a spectacular Eurovision Song Contest.”
Kiev will host the final of the Eurovision Song Contest on May 13.