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Kremlin says 'no tricks' in contestant pick to represent Russia at Eurovision

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the choice had nothing to do with Yulia Samoilova’s performance in Crimea
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov Mikhail Metzel/TASS
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov
© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, March 13. /TASS/. Choosing Yulia Samoilova as Russia’s representative at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest due in Kiev is not a provocative step, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. He added that this choice had nothing to do with Yulia’s performance in Crimea.

"I would not use such words as provocation, because it is a TV channel’s choice. I don’t see any provocation," Peskov told reporters. "Almost everybody was in Crimea, there is hardly anyone who has not travelled there," the Russian presidential spokesman said when asked if Samoilova’s performance in Crimea in 2015 could prevent her from taking part in the Eurovision Contest.

"It is an international contest so the host country should abide by its rules," the Kremlin spokesman stressed. "Undoubtedly, we would like to avoid politicizing the Eurovision Contest. We believe it absolutely unacceptable as far as the development of this international contest is concerned," the Kremlin spokesman stated.

When asked what attitude the Kremlin would adopt towards any political statements that the contest participants could possibly make, Peskov noted that such statements were hardly appropriate. "Participants will be there to sing and not to make political statements," he said.

Ukraine’s blacklist

Spokesperson for the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) Yelena Gitlyanskaya said earlier that the SBU would assess the matter and decide if it was possible to give Samoilova permission to enter Ukraine. The SBU sources also said that they had information on her performance at a festival dubbed "A World of Sports and Kindness" held in Crimea on June 27, 2015. The SBU added that by performing in Crimea, Samoilova had violated the Ukrainian government’s regulation dated June 4, 2015, which stipuated that foreign citizens should receive special permissions in order to enter Crimea.

The SBU also said that during the Eurovision Contest, it would not cancel its entrance ban for the Russian singers who were on the so-called black list. The list, compiled in August 2015, contains the names of more than 80 artists and cultural workers. Samoilova is not on the list but in December 2016, her name was included in the lists released on the Ukrainian "Mirotvorets" (or "Peacemaker") nationalist website which Russia believes to be extremist. However, the European Broadcasting Union has been stressing that all the artists should have an opportunity to travel to Ukraine during the Eurovision Contest while the organizers should ensure their safety.

2017 Eurovision Song Contest

On Sunday, it was announced that wheelchair-bound Yulia Samoilova will represent Russia at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, she will perform a song Flame Is Burning.

A total of 43 countries will participate in the Eurovision Song Contest this year. Semifinals will be held in the Ukrainian capital on May 9 and 11 while the Grand Final will take place on May 13.

Yulia Samoilova was born on April 7, 1989, in the city of Ukhta (the Republic of Komi). In 2013, she was second in the Factor A TV project. She also took part in the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games when she performed a song called Together. Yulia has been using a wheel chair since she was a child.