She’s the disabled Russian singer who had plans to sing the touching ballad “Flame Is Burning” at the Eurovision Song Contest 2017.

But on Wednesday Yulia Samoylova had her flame firmly extinguished as Ukraine’s Security Services (SBU) finally and officially banned her from entering the country — thereby ruling her ineligible to compete at Eurovision.

“Ukraine’s Security Service has banned Russian national Yulia Samoylova from entering Ukraine for three years,” SBU spokesperson Olena Hytlianska said in a statement posted on Facebook. “The decision was taken due to information that she had violated Ukrainian law.”

Within minutes a source at Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Ria-Novosti news agency that Ukraine’s decision was “cynical and inhuman.”

Russian politician Frants Klintsevich said that Russia would boycott future Eurovision contests if the organisers — most likely at the European Broadcasting Union and Ukrainian state television — failed to stand up for the singer.

“If the Eurovision leadership is silent, it’s completely politicized and biased,” he said.

As Deutsche Welle previously reported, Samoylova performed in the Crimean city of Kerch in 2015 — more than a year after Russia annexed the territory.

Ukrainian law deems it illegal to enter Crimea without first obtaining appropriate documentation from Ukraine. It appears that Yulia entered Crimea through Russia and without said documentation. That, in the eyes of Ukrainian security services, rules her ineligible to enter the country for Eurovision.

Today’s decision has shocked Eurovision fans, but officials hinted that it was possible earlier in the week.

On Monday Vasyl Hrytsak — the head of the SSU — announced that the paper work for today’s ban had already been drafted. He also made it clear that he did not want her at the contest, adding that her offending actions went far beyond her performance in the disputed territory.

“The law should be one for all — she did not just visit Crimea, she also left comments on social networks, where she spoke about Ukraine, its authorities and its course for Euro-Atlantic integration,” he said. “My own position is clear: I think she should not come to Ukraine.”

Jon Ola Sand responds

Jon Ola Sand, the Head of Live Events at the EBU, is not amused. He issued a video response in which he expressed his disappointment over Ukraine’s decision.

“We have to respect the local laws of the host country,” he said. “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.”

“We will continue a dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities to make sure that all artists can perform at the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv in May.”

Julia Samoylova at Eurovision

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 27-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.”

She was eventually diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy — a neuromuscular disorder causing muscle wastage, which has left her reliant on a wheelchair.

Her background and unique experience fits with Ukraine’s chosen theme for Eurovision 2017 “Celebrate Diversity”.

But since the announcement she would fly the Russian flag, journalists, bloggers and political commentators have all suggested that she was chosen for reasons beyond her voice and moving personal story.

Some suggested that her selection was a move to mitigate potential booing — a threat Russia has faced for several years. Others said that choosing her was a deliberate “provocation” against Ukraine. For Ukraine to ban a singer with a disability would be counter to the slogan of this year’s Eurovision and would seem both cruel and insensitive.

Indeed, many in the Twittersphere have expressed sympathy for Yulia and expressed outrage at Ukraine’s decision.

Others, while perhaps sympathetic to Julia as a participant and person, make it clear that the law is the law.

Russian officials — who have no doubt studied the various facets of this year’s participation — would have been aware of the regulations that ban performers who have sung in Crimea. And given how closely they vet each of their performers, they would also have known about Julia’s previous engagements.

Seen in this light, Russia could have been baiting Ukraine to ban Julia, with the hope of tarnishing their image on the international stage.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov has previously denied the suggestion that Julia’s selection was meant to provoke this year’s hosts.

According to the TASS news agency, he told reporters: “I would not use such words as provocation, because it is a TV channel’s choice. I don’t see any provocation. Almost everybody was in Crimea, there is hardly anyone who has not travelled there.”

“Undoubtedly, we would like to avoid politicising the Eurovision contest.”

It’s not yet clear whether Russia will, with the approval of the EBU, select a new contestant for the song contest or simply withdraw.

A third way — which would be highly unprecedented and which seems completely unlikely — would be to allow Julia to perform via satellite, much like Amy Winehouse at the 2008 Grammy Awards.

Update: Ukraine’s broadcaster responds

UA:PBC — the Ukrainian broadcaster — issued a statement late in the afternoon on Wednesday, well after the international media had reacted to Julia’s ban.

The statement said:

The National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine as the Host broadcaster of the Eurovision Song Contest 2017, is and will continue to implement the decisions of the Government of Ukraine, including the decision of SBU, to prohibit the entry to Ukraine, to the citizen of the Russian Federation, Julia Samoilova. However, we announce that the preparations for the Eurovision Song Contest 2017, continue in intensive mode.

Read more Russia Eurovision news

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
pinzdesign
Guest
pinzdesign

russia addressing humanism, is like isis jihadist respecting women rights

althou i still think our gov. should have let her in…and put entire row of this conflicts veterans in wheelchairs, close to stage.

Helena
Guest
Helena

Artsvik is from russia and is a russian citizen that’s a fact and she is in the same boat as yulia and they want to investigate her too and all this investigation is done AFTER ARMENIA AND RUSSIA ANNOUNCED THEIR SINGERS MONTHS AGO AFTER SPENDING SOOO MUCH MONEY FOR A NATIONAL FINAL AFTER THEIR SONG SELECTION AFTER RELEASING THEIR MUSIC VIDEOS… THIS IS NOT RIGHT YULIA WASN’T EVEN ON THE BLACK LIST BUT NOW SUDDENLY IS I AM DONE WITH UKRAINE PS this must be what jamala wanted after bringing the contest to ukraine her second country not to participate… Read more »

Alex
Guest
Alex

Does anyone have a link to an English translation of the law in question that makes it clear whether the law applies to citizens of countries other than Russia?

Tom
Guest
Tom

@Manel Navarro
Well it would be the emergence of bold and honest singers who say in the Eurovision scene in Ukraine.

Tom
Guest
Tom

@Samuel
For you all heads of state who does not serve America, are dictators 🙂

Manel Navarro
Guest

Hi, this is Manel Navarro from Spain and I don’t have anything to say 🙂

Samuel
Guest
Samuel

@Tom “You are a supporter of dictatorship?”
No. I don’t support putin

@Gandalf ““peacefull year of ESC” in the criminal state? You’re a super moron.”
This year we are not going to russia. You are super diot

@wiwiuser “Samuel, Armenia likely to be banned too. Bulgaria is also questionable. You are happy? Celebrate Diversity! R.I.P. Eurovision”
Another russian fake. Don’t believe in everything from this fake country

vlvikin
Guest
vlvikin

@KYLIE
Ukraine said that it will not let anyone who broke the law (for example, entered the Crimea not from Ukraine).
EBC agreed with this.
Russia chose the performer who entered the Crimea not from Ukraine.

Any questions?

Roelof Meesters
Guest
Roelof Meesters

Can’t they just ban her after the contest? I mean it is not like she will or can attack the country in any way, and if she can’t come for 3 years, fine, but let those three years start just TWO days after the final.

KYLIE
Guest
KYLIE

Why is everyone so intent to blame Russia? They picked a rep then gave her a chance to be their representative despite her disabilities then Ukraine bans her? Look, if you’re pro-Ukraine here, then you probably haven’t read the ‘Celebrate Diversity’ slogan. Maybe if Ukraine would not be bitter for one week and just allow diversity, then no problem.

ukraine vs. russia
Guest
ukraine vs. russia

I think it’s not fair to link the concept of undermining diversity with the banning of an individual on political grounds. If Russia has a problem with Ukraine’s decision they need to refer to international law and see what it says. If Ukraine is doing something wrong or outside of its sovereign rights by banning the Russian singer, then let the international courts decide. But to claim that Ukraine banned Julia solely based on her disability is just not convincing under even the broadest of interpretations. It’s gonna be very very hard to make international judges believe that one day… Read more »

Karma 2017
Guest
Karma 2017

@Karma2016: You must be quite used to treathening people and make them pay for disagreeing with you. It is precisely what Putin’s regime does after the manipulation, deceit and compromats* fail. You are so one of them. Disgusting.

*compromat is a Russian word for blackmail and political games to discredit one’s opponent.

Vlvikin
Guest
Vlvikin

@ESC84
NO, it started when Russia have seen ‘Russia Goodbye’ in Verka song

#KarmaFor2016
Guest
#KarmaFor2016

@Grobian: @KennyESC: @davve: @Baltic: @Iberia: You’re disgusting! Shame on you! How can you dare to say that? “Goodbye and never come back” WHY SHOULD THEY? Russia would be truly missed if they withdrew for a long time! They at least take the contest serious and want to win every year. Seriously, you should be ashamed of your comments.

I told you so, Ukraine, revenge will come! You don’t f*** with Mother Russia! The real winners of 2016.

Lady Gagarina
Guest
Lady Gagarina
Julian
Guest
Julian

Decision is not good for Ukraine they had the chance to look more mature and strong by allowing Julia to participate. It is possible they couldn’t ensure the safety of the Russian delegation and fear incidents worse than a ban might happen. At least they didn’t dragged the decision until very late like EBU banned Romania last year two weeks before the contest. Not sure what the EBU rules say. Russia now has to make the decision to withdraw for this year and will it be bound to still broadcast the contest? When Turkey withdrawn the contest was won by… Read more »

Rufio Feelwix
Guest
Rufio Feelwix

I don’t think we can understand the scope of this. These two countries are at WAR.

Why is no one blaming the Russians? They knew that they were making a decision that could be banned, and it did.

Ukraine was forcefully annexed by Russia. What do you expect?

A country at war shouldn’t host Eurovision. It just presents a whole slew of issues.

Had Russia hosted this year, who knows what could’ve happened.

Colin
Guest
Colin

Partially OT – I read BBC’s article on this and then the comments below. Aproximately every third is about how Eurovision is a ‘joke’ contest anyway. And THAT is why UK isn’t as succesful in last years. All the best to Lucie, though, she tries and deserves a good placement.

Marina
Guest
Marina

I cannot feel sorry for Russia. Somebody called Russia the bully of Eurovision. Exactly. They also use and abuse every political trick to stay on top of the game. I love Russian people, but we are talking about Putin’s Russia here. I was just reading a story on Reuters about the lawyer of a whistleblower in Russia who was thrown from a 4th floor window. Bulling, deciet, killing, manipulation–there must be some consequences for that. Again, I am not talking about the average person there, but the regime.

jj
Guest
jj

“But following an inoculation she slowly lost the function of her legs”

Wonder what the inoculation was for exactly, and was it administered into her spine? Were any other patients/kids given an inoculation from that same batch and did they develop illness/problems?

ESC84
Guest
ESC84

If you read the comment section below, it is all about Russia vs Ukraine, and this was started when EBU allows 1944 into the contest.

They open the Pandora Box, now they take what it get.

This is the second year ESC mixed up with politicss, shame on UKRAINE AND EBU

Acker
Guest
Acker

This Ukrainian law is completely contrary to freedom of expression. Everyone has the right to sing wherever they want. Law is not justice. The EBU would have to suspend the contest, because in Kiev the Ukranian government is not going to Celebrate any Diversity or failing that, countries should carry out a boycott.

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

Thank you to those who have inspired with kind words today. It has been a very sad and dark day. My thoughts are with those in London right now. Helena Paparizou, just wow! I hope you are right when you say “Eurovision is a survivor.” I’m afraid I’m losing faith in the contest and how it is managed. I might have to take a break from commenting here for a while (but I will try to keep reading when I can). The London Eurovision Party is coming up in April – hopefully that can go smoothly at least. One last… Read more »

Katrinelene
Guest
Katrinelene

Good for Ukraine! I’m supporting their decision! Russia don’t deserve Eurovision.

Mark
Guest
Mark

I like it Russia ban in sport , in music .trolls and cheters

Bring Her Back
Guest
Bring Her Back

Guys, according to what we know, she performed almost TWO years ago. Probably many Russian singers did the same thing… Which means that at that time she didn’t even think that she would go to ESC herself or anyone could predict that in 2016 Ukraine will win the contest…. The problem would arise if she visited Crimea, when she was chosen to represent Russia in ESC 2017 – which didn’t happen. Diversity is not only about one minority, but it’s all different minorities and underrepresented groups!

Rhingo
Guest
Rhingo

Wow!
Ukraine seems bend on destroying its reputation. I didn’t think they will fall so easily in Russia’s trap. They will probably let Yulia perform at the end but the damage is already made… R.I.P Ukraine in ESC!

Briekimchi
Guest
Briekimchi

Russia led Ukraine to water to drink…

Mikhail
Guest
Mikhail

Blah, blah, blah, law is the law. What exactly law of the joke country did she violate? I can’t find that “the law”. The best match I found is this one, Article 204-2 of Administrative Code, Google Translate: > Article 204-2. Violation of the order of entry in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine and out of > Violation of the order of entry in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine and out of punishable by a fine of one hundred to three hundred untaxed minimum incomes, or administrative arrest for up to fifteen days. Nothing about ban, only mentions… Read more »

Nicola
Guest
Nicola

SBU, she performed in 2015. Get over it. The past is in the past and you should be looking towards the future. Yes, she performed in Crimea almost 2 years ago and yes Russia did annex Crimea, but that’s not to say that Julia was 100% for the annexation. Why was/is it a big crime that a Russian singer performed in Crimea? Ukraine, put the past behind you.

Hada
Guest
Hada

Ukraine did the right thing. Too bad for Julia, but it’s more important for a country to uphold its laws (especially a law like this) than to cater to a tv show, as important as Eurovision might be.

AurelianTamisan
Guest
AurelianTamisan

Well, I still remain to the opinion that if Ukraine has the problems it has and can’t practically host a normal contest, they shouldn’t have been chosen to host it. And I still think they should be disqualified. But it’s also true that Russia could have chose that artist of purpose, to try to create a negative view on Ukraine. And they succeded. Yeah, Russia had a lot of controversies over the history of this contest, especially with another neighbour they didn’t get along too well, Georgia, who had prohibited representants because of Russia. Even this year, Georgia’s contestant was… Read more »

We love leds, visuals, air fans, divas and dated ballads!
Guest
We love leds, visuals, air fans, divas and dated ballads!

UER should not tolerate this. Nevertheless, I already warned about this last year: despite the great song voice and performance by Ukraine, we should not have voted neirher for Ukraine, Russia, Armenia norAzerbaijan. Unfortunately, these countries are politically not mature enough to understand this is only a song contest. I hope this year we dont do the same mistake again and vote for any of them despite having good entries. We have other good alternatives.

R
Guest
R

I think that even if Valentina Monetta, the 3rd Jacques Houdek or even Honey Boo Boo were representing Russia, Ukraine would find a way to ban them…

????? ????, B? ?????????!

Pink Pussycat
Guest
Pink Pussycat

First of all ukrainian victory last year was the biggest joke. We all knew this scenario would follow. Oh i wish these countries never joined EBU

Pollaski
Guest

Countries have a right to determine who they allow in. Furthermore, it sounds like Russia knew of this law, and chose her anyways, despite knowing she’d face a ban.

Personally, I think its bad manners to go participate in an event inside a country that you invaded, anyways, but that’s neither here nor there.

Baltic
Guest
Baltic

@Tom
Neither Ukraine nor Russia are in the EU or Schengen area so there’s no free movement between them.

Grobian
Guest
Grobian

This was the best Eurovision-related news of the season so far. It totally made my day. Eurovision without Russia – finally! I wholeheartedly hope they will withdraw and never ever come back.

God-Emperor
Guest
God-Emperor

Disgusting. When will the pussies of EBU punish severely both countries? Solve your problems whatever you want but don’t use Eurovision as a tool for personal frustrations. Thanks to last year’s joke we have a political conflict within the festival.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Stop thinking about lobbies and special interests and do something for once!!

Mara
Guest
Mara

The ban only applies to Russians who have gone to Crimea (esp. the ones who went there to perform) and not people of any nationality who have gone to Crimea (to eg. perform) hence the reason why Julia got banned but not the Bulgarian or Armenian entrants. I feel so sorry for Julia to be used by her country’s broadcaster to stir up this scenario. This isn’t Julia’s fault mind you, she only accepted the chance to represent her country at the Eurovision, not being made aware that she is being turned into a pawn and even if she were… Read more »

irada
Guest
irada

In my opinion Eurovision wouldn`t be organised in Ukraine because this country isn`t neutral and safe. I come from Poland and I have a problem with bought tickets. System is invalid. Postcards will be doing at May. Is it professional managing?

Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Armenia can win Eurovision but these countries can`t organise Eurovision because battle with neighbours.

Aria
Guest
Aria

https://youtu.be/FM7MFYoylVs

Just to soothe people heartbroken by this news.

Tom
Guest
Tom

@Johannes
In Kosovo was no referendum, Kosovo is separated from Serbia with US blessing.

KennyESC
Guest
KennyESC

Omggg Ukraine, I hope they ban this joke country FOREVER!! Plus they want to ban now Artsvik too and I think Kristian from Bulgaria and the Moldovan group, too.. At least I hope they ban them too(weeeell, I’ll be sad for them as I’m Albanian-Bulgarian and I ? Artsvik)if they want to be fair.. But I know they won’t, they wanted to ban Russia from the beginning… Plus they are trying to ban all contestants linked with Russia..I hope that joke country named Ukraine doesn’t ever reach the finals again.. BTW: Are @kalomira, @Helena Paparizou and @Robbie Williams the real… Read more »

Tom
Guest
Tom

According to the laws fascist Germany imprisoned people in concentration camps. The law is not equal to the law. Must be asked: law is the democratic , in compliance with European Convention on Human Rights.

Johannes
Guest
Johannes

@Tom One question. The goverment of Serbia had recognised the referendum in Kosovo? As long as I remember it wasn’t recognised legal. And in conclusion. The Kosovar land is historical land of Serbia. But now there lives ethnicly mostly albanins, also in Crimea mostly ethnic group is Russians. And one of the historic page. Because during Khrushchev era it wasn’t legal (according to the laws of the RSFSR, parts of the USSR) to transfer the peninsula to Ukraine (Ukranian SSR). After then there were so many disputes, to which country the peninsula belongs. Finaly, in 21st century the people of… Read more »

Tom
Guest
Tom

@Baltic
And where is the democracy, freedom of movement, even criminals, murderers, thieves not prevent the freedom of movement, when they come out of prison, and here does not allow free movement of honest people.

AngieP
Guest
AngieP

@SC I’m really sad to read that! I was aware about Artsvik but not about the Bulgarian entry! If this happens, something must be done! @Zebb “Do you feel the difference when russian citizens can freely say if it belongs, but for saying the opposite they should pay a fine and/or be imprisoned?” Thank you for reminding me that all countries don’t have the same laws and the same way of life! The truth is that most countries allow people to have their own opinion and express it. However, it’s not that way everywhere! Apat from that, I don’t know… Read more »

Katherine
Guest
Katherine

Not sure about Armenia but Bulgarian ban should not be considered for sure. The last time Kristian Kostov performed in Crimea was in 2012 for the New Wave Junior Song Contest and he was representing Bulgaria.

Slayer
Guest
Slayer

EBU deserves everything they are and will get in the future for letting politics into the contest for years. I hope this would lead to the disolving of the contest this year. Other countries should protest and deny their participation if they have any morals. If it was the other way around and Russia was hosting and banned the ukrainian artist it would have been the Apocalypse in the ESC and Social Media landscape…