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Ukraine’s border guards refuse entry to Russian fans heading to Kiev for Eurovision

May 11, 2017, 12:45 UTC+3 KIEV

The border guards banned the Russian fans on grounds that they were not sure about the true aim of the trip

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Kiev’s international airport Borispol

Kiev’s international airport Borispol

© AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

KIEV, May 11. /TASS/. Ukrainian border guards have banned several Russian fans from entering Kiev where they were heading for the Eurovision Song Contest, on grounds that they were not sure about the true aim of the trip, Ukrainian State Border Guard Service’s spokesman Oleg Slobodyan told TASS on Thursday.

The spokesman confirmed the episode at Kiev’s international airport Borispol. "Border guards admitted that they could have a different aim of the trip, that is why after analyzing the risks they turned them away at the border," he commented.

"If I am not mistaken, we are speaking about four people," Slobodyan specified, adding that no other restrictive measures had been applied. However, he declined to say outright whether Ukrainian border guards intended to bar other Russian fans from the Kiev-hosted song contest, claiming that Wednesday’s incident was "an isolated case".

However, "in case, we have doubts about the aim of the trip, we have every right to deny entry to citizens of any country," he answered.

Slobodyan also confirmed that three people representing Russian media outlets had been denied entry to Ukraine a short while ago. He said a female journalist was on top of that banned from entering Ukraine for three years as she "violated Ukrainian legislation by visiting Crimea." As for the other two Russian nationals, they were also turned away at the border as the guards admitted Eurovision was not the real aim of their visit.

On the whole, "there are no problems with letting in Russian journalists, take a look at the Eurovision press center and you will see them," he said.

On Wednesday, five Russian fans were sent back to Moscow on a flight via the Belarusian capital Minsk, the organizer of the Eurovision pre-party in Russia Dmitry Melnikov said.

On Saturday, May 6, Ukrainian border guards denied entry to a photographer from Rossiya Segodnya news agency Ramil Sitdikov and Komsomolskaya Pravda journalists Maria Remizova and Yelena Boduen.

Travel ban issue

On March 12, Channel One announced that wheelchair-bound singer Yulia Samoilova had been chosen to represent Russia at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest.

On March 22, the Ukrainian Security Council (SBU) issued a three-year travel ban against Samoilova, citing her performance at a festival dubbed "A World of Sports and Kindness" held in Crimea on June 27, 2015. Kiev say that by performing in Crimea, Samoilova violated the Ukrainian government’s regulation dated June 4, 2015, which stipulates that foreign citizens should receive special permission in order to enter Crimea.

The European Broadcasting Union said that it was deeply disappointed in Kiev’s decision to ban the Russian contestant from entering Ukraine.

The 2017 Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Final Two takes place in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev on May 11 while the Grand Final will take place on May 13.

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