Ukraine has banned Russia’s Eurovision Song Contest 2017 contender from attending because of ongoing tensions between the two countries.
The controversy centres around a visit Julia Samoylova made to Crimea, an area occupied by Russia in 2014 but still internationally recognised as part of Ukraine.
The BBC reported Julia performed at a concert in Crimea in 2015. As a result the Ukraine has banned her from entering the country for three years because she had entered Crimea “illegally” according to Ukrainian law – entering directly from Russia and not via Ukraine, the outlet reported.
The singer, who has been in a wheelchair since childhood and previously performed at the Sochi Olympics, was set to perform her song “Flame Is Burning” at this year’s Eurovision in Kiev in May.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which is in charge of Eurovision, said in a statement the ban had been confirmed to them and they were “deeply disappointed” by the news.
“We have to respect the local laws of the host country, however we are deeply disappointed in this decision as we feel it goes against both the spirit of the contest and the notion of inclusivity that lies at the heart of its values,” it said in a statement.
“We will continue a dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities with the aim of ensuring that all artists can perform at the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest.”
Earlier this month, it was announced that 17-year-old Isaiah Firebrace will be Australia’s contender in Eurovision 2017.
The Semi-Finals of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest will take place on Tuesday May 9 and Thursday May 11, with the Grand Final on Saturday May 13.