Moldova: SunStroke Project face backlash at home after Russian TV appearance

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Despite achieving third place at Eurovision 2017 — Moldova’s best-ever finish — the three members of SunStroke Project have been facing backlash from the domestic press and fans. It’s not over their stellar performance, but rather the fact they rushed to Moscow for their first TV appearance after Kyiv.

The day after Eurovision 2017 ended, the Moldovan three-piece were invited by Russia’s Channel One to appear on a show to discuss their third place in Kyiv. The show, called “Let Them Talk” and hosted by Andrey Malakhov, also featured banned Russian representative Julia Samoylova and, via satellite, Bulgaria’s entrant Kristian Kostov. The special was entitled “Blacklist for Eurovision” and focused on Julia’s ban from Eurovision 2017 by Ukrainian authorities.

Although SunStroke Project were not given much airtime, frontman Sergey Ialovitsky stole the show when he kissed Julia Samoylova’s hand upon hearing that she would be the automatic representative of Russia at the Eurovision Song Contest in Lisbon next year. How continental!

Epic Sax Guy Sergey Stepanov also said that Julia was lucky to be the centre of attention among the Eurovision fans for two years in a row.

The group refrained from making any political comments during the heavily pro-Russian and anti-Ukrainian show. (Among other things, it featured speculation that Kristian Kostov did not win Eurovision because he had a home in Moscow).

Upon return to Chisinau the “Hey Mamma” singers were criticised for not booking their first interview with the broadcaster who actually sent them to Kyiv, TeleRadio Moldova.

The fact that SunStroke Project later apologised for their gesture in the Russian language fuelled the fire even more.

Appearing on “Prima Ora” on Moldova’s Prime TV, Epic Sax Guy fielded a question about the Moscow visit. He responded to the host in Russian.

We know what has been written about us, we do have Facebook… Dear friends, we would have liked to come home first, to relax, to give interviews to everyone, but the fact such a big show, with such huge ratings took an interest in our country, we could not decline. Especially because we were invited to tell them what went on. Please do not be angry with us. Believe us when we say that it would have been so much more pleasant for us to stay at home.

The comments did little to ease the anger of Moldovan internet users and the press, which criticised the band for not speaking in Romanian, the official language of Moldova, even when they were apologising.

We must, however, stress that the band members of SunStroke Project are ethnically Russian. Two of them hail from the Russian language-dominated region of Transnistria, a separatist territory with fierce pro-Russian sentiment. But the artists themselves have always been apolitical and proudly flew the flag of Moldova in Kyiv. Although they speak Romanian in a very broken accent, they always prefer to speak in their mother tongue and, as a minority in their country, they should not be blamed for that.

Decorated by the President of Moldova

One person who does not blame SunStroke Project for their Russian leaning is the president of Moldova, Igor Dodon. The leader of the country, who is himself pro-Russian, decorated the three band members and their manager with the high distinctions “Order of Honour” and “Civic Merit”, respectively. Speaking in Romanian at the ceremony, Dodon praised the band for their result and for putting Moldova back on the musical map.

Moldovan president Igor Dodon decorating SunStroke Project

Moldovan president Igor Dodon (center) decorating SunStroke Project members and manager Dimitry Sergeyev (right)

What do you think? Should SunStroke Project have booked their first interview at home? And what do you make of the backlash they got upon returning to Chisinau? Let us know in the comments!

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