It’s the controversy that launched a thousand headlines, turning the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest into a political fiasco in the eyes of millions.
And today Ukraine’s three-year ban on Russia’s Eurovision 2017 singer Julia Samoylova flared up once again with the news that the EBU may temporarily exclude Ukraine from Eurovision.
Speaking to German-language newspaper Sonntagsblick, the EBU’s czarina lashed out at Ukrainian officials.
“The behaviour of Ukraine is absolutely unacceptable,” she said.
The 56-year-old power broker is currently overseeing negotiations with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Hrojsman and President Petro Poroshenko to reach a “satisfactory solution”.
They are the only two men who could reverse the ban on Julia, making it possible for her to compete at Eurovision.
“I deeply regret the fact that the ESC is being abused for political action,” she said. “The Eurovison Song Contest is supposed to delight and bring together millions of people; it must not be used to incite them against each other.”
Deltenre’s comments follow weeks of criticism that the EBU hasn’t been tough enough on Ukraine.
A ban on Ukraine?
And, perhaps to prove that she’s serious about creating a space for Julia at the contest, she suggested that sanctions against Ukraine are not out of the picture.
According to Blick, Deltenre could temporarily exclude Ukraine from Eurovision if a satisfactory outcome is not reached, though the paper did not clarify whether this referred to current or future editions of the contest, nor has this been publicly confirmed elsewhere.
The ongoing drama is not, of course, the first instance of politics leading to withdrawal or exclusion.
In August 2008, after a period of worsening relations, Georgia and Russia went to war over the disputed regions of Ossetia and Abkhazia. The following February, Stefane & 3G won Georgia’s Eurovision selection. As a result they would sing “We Don’t Wanna Put In” at the 2009 contest in Moscow.
Controversy ensued as the song was seen to make reference to Russia’s prime minister Vladimir Putin. This argument was backed up by the fact that the group pronounced the lyrics “put in” as “poot een”.
The EBU ruled that the lyrics were not permissible under Eurovision rules and that Georgia must either amend them or send a new entry. Georgia refused and withdrew completely, attributing the EBU’s objections to pressure from Russia.
Georgia returned in 2010 and have competed every year since. Stefane & 3G band member Tamara “Tako” Gachechiladze is set to represent the country in Kyiv.
Read more Ukraine Eurovision news