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Last year’s Eurovision organiser calls for Russia to be barred from 2022 event

Eurovision is this year being held in Italy (EBU/PA)
Eurovision is this year being held in Italy (EBU/PA)

The organiser of last year’s Eurovision Song Contest has called on its producers to stop Russia from participating in the upcoming competition over its invasion of Ukraine.

Dutch broadcaster Avrotros, which was involved in organising the 2021 event in Rotterdam, issued a statement in which its chief executive urged Europe to “unite and show what we stand for”.

Earlier this week, Ukrainian state broadcaster UA:PBC asked the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which produces Eurovision, to suspend Russia’s membership and ban it from the 2022 contest.

However, Eurovision indicated it plans to allow Russia to compete in May, describing itself as a “non-political cultural event”.

In his statement, Avrotros chief executive Eric van Stade said that “personally and also as director” he no longer felt able to remain silent on the issue.

He added: “This is the time when Europe must unite and show what we stand for.”

Mr van Stade described Russian action in Ukraine as “a gross violation of universal values” including sovereignty.

He concluded: “I also ask other countries to speak out and call on the EBU to suspend Russia from EBU membership, so that they can no longer participate in the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin.”

The 66th edition of Eurovision is due to take place in Turin after Italian rock band Maneskin won the 2021 contest.

Earlier this week, Ukrainian media company UA:PBC claimed in its statement that Russian broadcasters have been “a mouthpiece for the Kremlin and a key tool of political propaganda” and have taken part in “systematic dissemination of disinformation” against Ukraine, describing this as “contrary” to the values ​​of the EBU.

And last week, the act chosen to represent Ukraine in Turin withdrew from representing her country after facing scrutiny over a reported 2015 visit to Russia-occupied Crimea.

Alina Pash had been chosen in a televised national selection show and was due to perform her song Shadows Of Forgotten Ancestors, but pulled out after details of the trip emerged.

People who enter the territory via Russia are considered by Ukraine to have illegally crossed the border. There is no suggestion that Pash entered Crimea from Russia.

She was replaced by rap act Kalush Orchestra with the song Stefania.

Russia has not yet announced its act.

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