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Iceland and Estonia join calls for Russia Eurovision ban after Ukraine invasion

A pro-Russian rebel looks up while riding on a tank flying Russia’s flag (Vadim Ghirda/AP)
A pro-Russian rebel looks up while riding on a tank flying Russia’s flag (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

Iceland and Estonia have joined the Netherlands in calling for Russia to be excluded from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest over its invasion of Ukraine.

The competition has indicated it plans to allow Russia to compete in Turin in May, describing itself as a “non-political cultural event”.

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

Other member broadcasters have since followed suit, with Estonia the latest to issue a statement.

Estonian Public Broadcasting board chairman Erik Roose said he had contacted the EBU to discuss Russia’s involvement.

He said: “Obviously, it is inconceivable that Estonia will participate in Eurovision in a situation where Russia participates but Ukraine does not.

“Apparently, our colleagues from other Baltic countries are of the same opinion. We will continue to communicate with the EBU as the organiser of the song contest.”

Icelandic broadcaster RUV said it had been in contact with its “Nordic colleagues who share our concerns about the situation in Ukraine” and they had agreed Russia should not compete.

Ville Vilen, from the Finnish Broadcasting Company, described the Russian invasion of Ukraine as “contrary to all the values that YLE and other European broadcasters represent” and indicated it was ready to withdraw if the EBU did not change its decision.

Dutch broadcaster Avrotros, which was involved in organising the 2021 event in Rotterdam, called for Europe to “unite and show what we stand for”.

Its chief executive Eric van Stade said: “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.”

Denmark and Norway have also joined calls for Russia to be excluded, according to local media reports.

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

The statement from Eurovision issued on Thursday said: “The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political cultural event which unites nations and celebrates diversity through music.

“The EBU’s public broadcaster members in both Russia and Ukraine have committed to participating in this year’s event in Turin and we are currently planning to welcome artists from both countries to perform in May.

“We of course will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

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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