With Eurovision 2017 taking place in geopolitical rival Ukraine, fears were high that Russia might withdraw from the party owing to anti-Russian sentiment.

But on Sunday evening, Russia’s Channel 1 put Eurovision fans at ease by finally and officially confirming that they will compete, sending the wheelchair-bound singer Yulia Samoilova to the contest. Her song is the uplifting “Flame is Burning”.

Yulia Samoilova — Flame is Burning

Yulia came to public attention in 2013 with her stirring performance of “Molitva” on Faktor A — the Russian version of X Factor.

According to her web site the 28-year-old singer was born completely healthy and “developed as a normal child.” But following an inoculation she slowly lost the function of her legs, with doctors suggesting that she might die within three years.

“My parents took me to all kinds of sorcerers and healers — both world-famous and unknown,” she writes. “They were charlatans” and her health continued to deteriorate.

But when her mother intervened and stopped all treatment Yulia began to recover and through music she found a therapeutic and emotional outlet. Her interest had always been there. “I used to say all of the sounds and imitate adults,” she writes. “For example, my grandfather sneezed, and I tried to copy his tone.”

Yulia Samoilova covers “Molitva”

The selection of Yulia, whose moving personal story will inspire millions, fits nicely with the Eurovision 2017 theme #CelebrateDiversity.

It may also be seen as a reaction to the anti-Russian sentiment present in Ukraine and elsewhere.

Owing to geopolitical sensitivities, Russian acts have faced extreme hostility at Eurovision in recent years, with the teenage Tolmachevy Sisters and Polina Gagarina facing loud and overt booing in 2014 and 2015.

But the selection of Yulia could mitigate against the risk of booing during the live shows. Booing an artist who has overcome so much and represents perseverance to so many would leave the audience looking even more crass and insensitive than booing normally does.

Regardless of Russia’s motives and how you feel about them, sending Yulia remains a beautiful statement on inclusion and we fully support it. The vast majority of viewers will not have the context for her selection and will simply see a woman enjoying her moment in the spotlight.

Why is ‘wheelchair’ in the headline?

As far as we know, Yulia will be the second Eurovision artist to perform in a wheelchair.

In 2015 Poland’s Monika Kuczynska won scores of fans with her ballad “In The Name Of Love” — a song about perseverance and making the most out of life.

Her live performance at Eurovision featured footage of her working the runway and performing prior to a car accident that left her in a wheelchair, deliberately showcasing the contrast of her past and present.

But what unified both scenes was a love of music and immense talent, proving that Monika’s disability may have dramatically altered her life, but at her core she was the same strong woman. She finished 23rd with 10 points.

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DaStarSays (@dastarsays)
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DaStarSays (@dastarsays)

If she brings the best performance of the show, she truly deserves to win.

She will be the same symbol like Dana International & others that brough diversity to Eurovision.

I respect her for taking this step & I am positively sure she will sing with her heart.

DaStarSays (@dastarsays)
Guest
DaStarSays (@dastarsays)

This song is not just a ordinary Russian song, it has a message to all of us.

Just read the lyrics.

It thrills me deeply & I have a deep respect for Yulia & also Russia on this song.

Hope for one we can truely LEAVE POLITICS OUT OF EUROVISION!

I think we would suddenly, through the music & atmosphere, realize we’re all enjoying together like a bunch of brothers & sisters

Niki
Guest
Niki

Why is it even worth mentioning to mention she’s the second singer in a wheel chair…?
She’s a normal person like everyone else…

Lady Gagarina
Guest
Lady Gagarina

@CookyMonzta yes hopefully the situation you outlined below is ideal. However, looking at the various pronouncements, it seems Ukraine is taking the bait instead. The EBU & Jon Ola Sands should step in immediately & announce the decision so that this drama doesn’t get prolonged.
On Darya, there was nothing official i think

CookyMonzta
Guest
CookyMonzta

@Lady Gagarina: Ukraine and the EBU won’t have to. They might call Russia’s bluff and let the people and the juries decide. I’ll bet the farm they’ll give her a warm welcome and applause just for making it to the big stage (just as they did for PKN in Vienna); but still, if they don’t think her performance is worthy of a spot in the final, they probably won’t advance her, as was the case for PKN; exemplifying the obvious, that no one is entitled to a spot in the final…except, of course, the defending country and the 5 who… Read more »

Lady Gagarina
Guest
Lady Gagarina

Knowingly or unknowingly, seems like Russia has done a checkmate of sorts to Ukraine, baiting it to do a tough & potentially unpopular decision that will forever impact the contest. Because if Ukraine bars her from entering, Russia will have the ammunition to say: look at how evil this country is, barring a fragile girl to fulfill her dreams. And if the EBU allows this, the bad PR from all over will be massive: like EBU supports politics over disabled people etc. Unfortunately, no one is going to win in this dirty game of politicizing the contest. I hope Ukraine… Read more »

Tugg
Guest
Tugg

I loved her performance, for me she’s already victorious, I can’t even imagine how life can’t be hard for a people with disability, specially in a place such as Russia, a land full of neo-nazis who wants to kill everyone who doesn’t fit in the “stereotypes of arian race”.

Russia don’t deserve to win, but Julia does, she’s not guilty for her country’s disgusting nazist agenda. I just feel afraid for LGBT, jews and black artists and their teams’ security if Russia hosts the contest in 2018.

ben005
Guest
ben005

Thank you for sharing your story with us, William. RESPECT! Happy for Julia and wishing her all the best in Kyiv! Haters back off!

Zaranski
Guest
Zaranski

I’ll be more than happy to boo this thoroughly foul anti-EU nationalist. The fact that she’s in a wheelchair is utterly irrelevant.

Joseph
Guest
Joseph

A woman just for her nationality shouldnt be judge for the actions of her country

Mameo
Guest
Mameo

I can’t deny. I think there is ulterior motive involved. But we should move on. I’m glad Russia is still participating even during this terrible time and hope in the future as well. Hope we could see bona fide effort next year (not accusing this year entry but there’s still sentiment…) and forget the booing and mishaps that had happened.

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

For those who haven’t seen it, here is William Lee Adams’s very personal explanation (in YouTube video form) as to why this article was written and presented in this form:
https://youtu.be/-ezY0T0YVWM

Please watch the video. Thank you.

CookyMonzta
Guest
CookyMonzta

@Hermès: “Human shield”. Sadly, the phrase here is appropriate.

@Bgc, Racal, Colin: Some countries tried very hard to send non-English songs worthy of the top-half of the board; Sweden (with Jon Henrik and Aninia), and Malta (Janice Mangion) among them. Others obviously succeeded, although it remains to be seen how many of them will finish in the top 13. I expect Hungary to be one of them.

Martin C
Guest
Martin C

She has moved me to tears. With all politics aside, we must remember that all politics should be left aside when it comes to Eurovision and we should all focus on the music. The song may not be the best but the will power and determination that she has is incredible! Her cover of molitva had me in tears and I’m so happy for her that she now has the chance to represent her country in Eurovision. Her voice really is amazing and she really is such an inspiration. Good luck in Kiev Julia <3

Giogeo22
Guest
Giogeo22

Ukraine will block the entrance to this girl just for singing in Crimea. I see where the “Celebrate Diversity” is addressed to.

CookyMonzta
Guest
CookyMonzta

@Richard O’Doherty, AMR: If they fail to qualify, bet your horse money that they will withdraw their delegation and not even vote in the Grand Final. The girl wanted this moment, yes? But I would imagine not like this. I will reserve judgment until they make a music video. Suffice to say, though, they won’t be going all-out to try and win this thing, as they did with Sergey last year (which, by the way, I ranked 4th).

Anka
Guest
Anka

@Oxana Interesting. My cousin’s name is Kovalenko. So tell me, Oxana, what is the right way a person should identify him/herself in case her/his ansectors come from territories with different names – Ukraine, Russia, Belorussia? As in my case, for example. Should I betray my grandaparents and other blood relatives by identifying myself solely with one particular line? I am a perfect example of inseparrability between the three parts of the same people – Russian, Ukranian and Belorussian. The blood in my veins is one and the same. You see, Oxana, unlilke you, I happen to view my origin and… Read more »

Cersei Lannister
Guest
Cersei Lannister

If Russian trolls and hackers could decide the president of USA, they can win Eurovision, it’s a question of prestige.
But the truth is that it’s harder to win Eurovision.

Anton
Guest
Anton

Wow, it turned out she has performed in Crimea. It’s not okay to illegally cross a country’s border and then want to sing in the capital of that country, like nothing happened. The rules should be the same for everyone. This is quite a provocative and disappointing move by the Russian broadcaster. Security Service of Ukraine will be investigating this now.

Marat
Guest
Marat

Russia will win Eurovision. Our hackers are already working)))))) It’s strange, why do not they talk about it yet?)

Gandalf
Guest
Gandalf

Your Ukraine is a one big zero. All what says ukranian criminals (see the ukranian goverment’s website Mirotvorets that publishes personal info without agreement) is a meaningless words.

vlvikin
Guest
vlvikin

Ukraine says it will not allow for competition singers who were in Crimea after the occupation
EBC agrees with this
Russia sends an invalid who performed in the Crimea
Russia make cynicism again.BRAVO

vlvikin
Guest
vlvikin

Ukraine says it will not allow for competition singers who were in Crimea after the occupation
??? agrees with this
Russia sends an invalid who performed in the Crimea
Russia make cynicism again.BRAVO

RNRS
Guest
RNRS

Oxana – According to You, Ukraine is in a very horrible state. How are You guys planning to host Eurovision then? half of your organising team left. Ukraine can hardly pay debts to other countries, let alone host Eurovision. Are we about to witness 43 contestants performing on a stage made out of carboard boxes? Carefully hun, there is a group of Russians about to enter your country to perform, you should run in a bomb shelter. btw, glad your back! 😉 i kinda missed your stupid comments on how Russia is bad and Ukraine is supeb. xoxo

Alex M
Guest
Alex M

Omg… russian trolls attacking. Again.
Ukrainian nazis blah blah blah~
Get a life.

Gandalf
Guest
Gandalf

Erin, the Russia have support in the all Europe. We see it after each ESC. Take it easy. Let’s recognize that Russia has won the Eurovision 2016.

Voronezh94
Guest
Voronezh94

All of those who think Russia is afraid of being booed are at least naive. When the twins and Gagarina – all like angels dressed in white – were booed, Russian viewers considered the “booers” to be inhumane and subjective people who would boo a person sharing his/her talent on the stage just because of their country of origin. Those “booers” were so stupid that didn’t know they were being manipulated to do so. They weren’t being manipulated to boo homophobic Armenia or totalitarian Azerbaijan, for example. Billions of dollars spent by Russian propaganda for defending traditional (or conservative) family… Read more »

Erin
Guest
Erin

@Oxana – of course you’re right about ‘mir’ meaning peace and not ‘world’ in the context of Yulia’s Instagram message. I’d just like to say that anyone suggesting she’s a sacrificial lamb thrown into this metaphorical blood ring is ridiculous and condescending towards her first and foremost: Yulia would want to be treated as first among equals and her song should be judged on its merits or lack thereof and not on the basis of feeling sorry or sympathizing with her handicap. It’s unfortunate that Yulia felt it was necessary to make platitudes about peace as if that would placate… Read more »

?????
Guest
?????

Oxana:- ,,10 millions during WWII together with buddies nazis Germans”.- I understood correctly?)
What interesting stories you have Ukrainian history books))))))

Gandalf
Guest
Gandalf

Oxana, you need a doctor. Everyone knows that the Ukrainian authorities(pro-West Oligarchs) are killing Ukrainian children in the pro-Russian Donbas. Nobody kills Ukrainian children in the pro-Nazis Lviv. Oxana personifies the modern stupid and aggressive Ukraine.

adriana
Guest
adriana

The best of luck to her 🙂

Y
Guest
Y

I haven’t seen an article getting so much comments. LOL

As for the topic, Russia should have withdraw, it would have been classier and send the girl next year. Oh, well.

And Ukrainians and Russiansz behave yourself! We already nearly contained one conflict (Macedonia vs. Greece) due to the music by both countries. The music seem to be divider here *cough*Jamala*cough*.

Salsa
Guest
Salsa

@Oxana : ”If Russian scum will come to my home I will kill them in a any way possible (and my mother, other family members would do the same, tho they are half Jewish but Ukrainians in their hearts). Ukrainian is not just a nationality, it’s a determination to defend Ukrainian culture, language, history, and its independency, defend a future of your country for the sake of your kids. if you’ve been rised in Russia you might never understand it.” Its just fine to defend yourself against anybody that is enemy in that moment, but if you are half Jew,… Read more »

Lady Gagarina
Guest
Lady Gagarina

@Oxana I’m just curious, in the context of this contest, what is your opinion on the Russian delegation setting foot in Kiev? (I haven’t read the full comments below)

Alex M
Guest
Alex M

Constantin :
“This is subjective.”
Poland vs Russia? Subjective? lol

“It was REFERENDUM and Ukraine is full of mad politicians that make people go away, anywhere.”
It was an annexation. Every country has it’s own mad politicians. It’s what politicians/populists do. On the other hand we have a whole mad government in Russia, which starts hybrid wars in every neighbor it has. Seriously, take a look at the map sometimes.

Oxana
Guest
Oxana

“P.O.W.A”
“@ Oxana: Where have you been all this time girl.. Nice to see you here again after a long time : )”

thanks 🙂 I’ve been busy with my work (despite trolls’ opinion that I live on sites to troll I have pretty busy schedule and family to manage, just as other people :))
Eugene will appear once betting will get steady. in a month? let’s see 🙂

Oxana
Guest
Oxana

Anka, I’m Oxana Kovalenko, Ukrainian by father and my mother is native Russian who was raised here in Ukraine (after her mom, my grandma moved from Russia to Ukraine during WWII to marry Ukrainian sildier from West Ukraine who shortly died in war while defending West border from Germans). My father is from Zaporozhian cossacks as you can see from my name and I consider myself a real Ukrainian who won’t run and won’t abandon my homeland. If Russian scum will come to my home I will kill them in a any way possible (and my mother, other family members… Read more »

Pavel
Guest
Pavel

Ukraine started this political thing last year, what Russia can do now?
+++++++++++++++++
I may say Russia started this political thing in 2003 with t.A.T.U.’s “F**k war” t-shirts adding some “Nobody Hurt No One” to the mix a couple of years later.
So Russia can’t blame others on using Eurovision for political statements

Oxana
Guest
Oxana

Marat
” It’s interesting when Russia destroyed millions of Ukrainians?)))) ”

from 1917 to 2017 – just in 100 years. attack on Ukraine and sizing its East lands by newly breed of commies, collectivization and famine that took millions of lives in 30s, 10 millions during WWII together with buddies nazis Germans, 40-60s – repressions and killing of nationalists who dared just to rise Ukrainian flag or wanted to speak Ukrainian, 2014-2017 – 10 000 of people killed.

there’s nothing to laugh about, jerk. just in 100 years timeframe we’ve lost 1/3 of population because of Russian scum

Marat
Guest
Marat

I’m from Russia) We also shared the opinion, according to Julius Samoilova … It’s interesting when Russia destroyed millions of Ukrainians?)))) Read the story and do not believe what the Ukrainians write to you. They only want from you only money, accusing Russia) ))) Think yourself ….

eve
Guest
eve

Just gonna judge the song, I don’t like it, in fact I think is among my least favourite songs this year and one of the weakest entries Russia has ever sen to eurovision

Constantin
Guest
Constantin

Russia could withdraw, but they send a woman that can’t be boo-ed. Is this so wrong??? Ukraine started this political thing last year, what Russia can do now? Europe started this long before (even Dima Bilan was boo-ed). Maybe Europe doesn’t know what means to be at war, Ukraine has a far-right government. They defend themselves saying that the prime-minister is Jew. So what? Far right is not only Hitler-vs-Jews. Ukraine has far-right government. Period.

Adam
Guest
Adam

I really like her voice, and I hope she does well in May. Apparently she’s been looking for her big break for a while, and I hope this helps her. Though I really wish they’d let her sing in Russian. Same song – just russian lyrics. It could sound a lot better (especially in the first part of the song where her English isn’t so good).

Lady Gagarina
Guest
Lady Gagarina

More power to her if she willingly & voluntarily wanted this. If this was a realization of her dreams, who are we to withold it to her, despite whatever motives. I’m not super keen on the song though, weakest Russian song in years. But still good luck to her, hope she achieves what she sought to achieve. By the way, booing for whatever reason is just crass & unbecoming. It’s so stone age behaviour

AngieP
Guest
AngieP

First of all, best of luck to Yulia Samoilova! However, Russia is trying to gain the sympathy of Europe. Let me explain: The contest is held in Ukraine, with which Russia has issues. There is a tense situation between them. So they don’t withdraw, because that would be a weakness and people would think they are afraid of going to Ukraine and face this hostility. Thus, they decide to send a woman on a wheelchair so as not to get booed. Obviously this is a move done on purpose. I don’t know, but for me it’s like trying to benefit… Read more »

Wozzeck
Guest
Wozzeck

The elephant in the room is not the wheelchair.
The elephant in the room is Russia submiting such a lousy song.

Constantin
Guest
Constantin

Alex M :
”Julia(Yulia) blamed western countries for what’s going on in eastern Ukraine”

Why so sensitive? Western countries are not saints?

”also stating that polish people live worse than russians (LOL)”

This is subjective.

”and she performed in annexed Crimea (violating Ukrainian law).
She is a typical imperial russian, brainwashed by local propaganda.”

It was REFERENDUM and Ukraine is full of mad politicians that make people go away, anywhere.

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

Wheelchair or not! Everyone has the right to stand on that Eurovision stage! And whenever I like a song from Russia like 2015 or 2016 my friends always say to me: “how can u support a song from Russia” and my answer is simple: Because during Eurovision I put all my political views aside and I celebrate music! Nothing else!!!! But sorry: this song is boring and her diction is horrible!!! Don’t understand a single word! Didn’t even realized that she is singing in english!!!!

Pavel
Guest
Pavel

Why oh why Russia needed Yulia to sing in English?
It could have been perfectly innocent in Russian, now it looks like they are really aiming to win and get that diaspora/sympathy/political vote.