Last August Ukraine’s Ministry of Culture published a list of Russian singers and actors whose work it had banned from cinemas, radio and television.
At that time roughly 7,000 people had died during skirmishes in Ukraine’s Eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where fighting started in April 2014, just weeks before Eurovision, and the list was meant to help screen out “security threats”.
Now, Ukraine’s Minister of Culture Eugene Nyschuk has publicly confirmed that artists on this list will not be admitted to the country if they are selected for Eurovision.
The comments came during Friday’s host city announcement in Kyiv, after a journalist asked about artists on this blacklist. Here’s what Nyschuk said, as reported by Russia’s Rambler.
If Russia chooses such a performer – it would be a deliberate provocation. In Russia there are many artists who understand that peace is the most important thing, that you can not speak the language of aggression and belittle some nations, especially neighbours, and it is necessary to speak in a professional way – through music and singing. There can be no compromises – for example, Iosif Kobzon, if he is selected, will not be allowed to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest in Ukraine.
The list includes more than 80 cultural figures, including the singers Oleg Gazmanov, Iosif Kobzon, Valery Joseph Prigogine, Mikhail Boyarsky, Grigory Leps and Nikolay Rastorguev — the lead singer of the group Lyube.
The French actor Gerard Depardieu, who became a Russian citizen in 2013, is also on the list.
It’s unlikely that any of these artists would be chosen for Eurovision. But the Minister of Culture’s language during yesterday’s briefing was quite provocative for an event that is meant to be apolitical. Some of the artists named have already suggested that Russia should withdraw from Eurovision 2017.
Jon Ola Sand is not impressed.
As Kyiv SSI reports, the executive producer of Eurovision told the TSS news agency that the EBU “will engage in constructive dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities to ensure that all delegates and artists can come and stay in Ukraine.”