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Kremlin hopes Kiev will rethink ban on disabled Russian Eurovision contestant

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov believes Ukraine's move "seriously devalues the upcoming contest"
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov Mikhail Metzel/TASS
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov
© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

MOSCOW, March 23. /TASS/. The Kremlin is calling on Kiev to review its entry ban on Russia’s vocalist who planned to participate in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, Yulia Samoilova, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday.

"Certainly, the Ukrainian side’s decision seriously devalues the upcoming contest and this deals a blow to Eurovision's image," Peskov stated, noting that the event’s organizers have already voiced regret over the decision by Ukraine’s domestic intelligence agency, the SBU.

"We also consider that this decision to be flawed and in fact, of course, we expect that this decision will be reviewed allowing the Russian participant to able to take part in this contest," Peskov stressed.

Commenting on suggestions that Russia should boycott Eurovision amid the scandal, Peskov insisted that the ban for Samoilova had been initiated by Kiev, not the Eurovision organizers. "Certainly, the contest’s image has been undermined, at least in Russia, which is an important participant with such large population."

"As for the Ukrainian side, the SBU’s decision, in our view, is absolutely unfair, it is wrong, and we still hope that it will be revised," Peskov stressed.

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s SBU slapped a ban on Yulia Samoilova prohibiting the handicapped Russian vocalist from entering Ukraine for three years. SBU Spokeswoman Yelena Gitlyanskaya said the decision was made on the basis of evidence that Samoilova had violated Ukrainian laws. Kiev’s security service argues that, by performing in Crimea in the summer of 2015, Samoilova had violated the Ukrainian government’s resolution saying that all foreign visitors should obtain special permission to visit the peninsula. Commenting on the move, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the current Ukrainian regime demonstrated its weakness and real attitude towards European values.

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

A total of 43 countries are expected to take part in Eurovision this year. Semifinals will be held in Kiev on May 9 and 11, while the Grand Final will take place on May 13.