Reference Group chairperson: Sanctions likely against Russia and Ukraine

It’s been the ongoing drama of Eurovision 2017 and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon. Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group chairman Frank-Dieter Freiling has told German media that it is likely that both the Ukraine and Russian broadcasters will have sanctions brought against them — and that could mean a ban for up to three years.

Speaking to Heute, Freiling explained that the Ukraine host broadcaster had committed to welcoming all EBU guests — including Eurovision acts — to Kyiv, but they had failed to do this with Russia’s act. Freiling explained, “From the Ukrainian point of view the legal situation is clear, but from the EBU perspective it is still a violation of the statutes.” And, he went on, violations of the statutes must be sanctioned.

And the Russian broadcaster isn’t getting off scot-free. They didn’t show up to the compulsory HoD meetings earlier in the year — another statute violation that the reference group intends to sanction.

The reference group will discuss the matter of both Ukraine and Russia at their meeting next week. Then a formal notice will be made at the reference group meeting on 12 June.

But what form will the sanctions take? Freiling did not want to speculate, but he did discuss the options available. “Our statutes provide for a number of violations, from a fine, the withdrawal of sponsor’s funding, to a suspension of up to three years.

Jon Ola Sand is optimistic

Jon Ola Sand: optimistic

A three-year ban could mean that we might not see Russia and Ukraine at Eurovision until 2021. But Eurovision Executive Supervisor and reference group member Jon Ola Sand is more optimistic.

Earlier this week he told Norwegian media that he expected Russia would be back at Eurovision 2018.

Speaking to Aftenposten, Sand said “The Russian broadcaster is very sorry for this and has apologised for what happened. We have not received any reaction from the Russian authorities. This has not been a very big issue in the Russian media. We are therefore in a straightforward dialogue with the Russians, and I’m sure they will be with us again next year.”