Russia to remain in Eurovision Song Contest following Ukraine invasion

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this week has caused some to raise the question, “Will both countries be invited to this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in May?” The international competition’s hosting organization, the Swiss-based European Broadcasting Union, announced today that both nations will be invited to compete as usual, in spite of Russia’s provocation of war and current incursion into Eastern Ukraine.

Organized and funded by the EBU, Eurovision was founded in 1951 with the hope of uniting nations after World War II. Every year, representatives of dozens of nations across the continent and throughout Asia compete with original songs performed live in front of an audience that, in 2021, reached over 183 million people around the world.

This isn’t the first time that the contest has sparked tensions between the two countries. In 2016, Ukrainian singer Jamala, the first Crimean Tartar to perform at Eurovision, won the contest with “1944,” a song about Joseph Stalin’s deportation of the Tartars to Uzbekistan. Her win caused controversy with what were alleged to be political undertones criticizing the modern Russian government.

As reported by Variety, Mykola Chernotytsky, chairman of the Public Broadcasting Chair of Ukraine (UA:PBC), the country’s official broadcasting company, published an open letter on the UA:PBC’s site requesting that the EBU ban Russia from the competition.  In a response, the event’s organizer’s declared, “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.”