Russian media is reporting that EBU General Director Ingrid Deltenre has fallen victim to Russian pranksters Alexey Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov — revealing that Eurovision 2017 could very well be taken away from Ukraine over the ban of Russian singer Julia Samoylova.
According to Russian website Life.ru, the notorious pranksters posed as Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman. Deltenre revealed that there is a contingency plan in place to move the Eurovision Song Contest to Berlin, Germany, if the ban isn’t scrapped.
The audio of the alleged prank call was published here. Ingrid Deltenre tells the pranksters posing as the Ukrainian premier that it is the first time when a host country denied access to a singer from another country. This of course is in reference to the fact that Julia Samoylova from Russia is banned from entering Ukraine. Deltenre adds that when Samoylova was in Crimea, she was not yet the Russian representative for Eurovision. She is also says that the ban can be re-imposed after the contest.
According to the audio, which has not been confirmed by the EBU, the general director stated as well that Ukraine would incur a loss of reputation if Julia Samoylova is not allowed to perform and that the event should be used to promote an open Ukraine. “If you ban her from participation, the reputation of Ukraine in whole Europe is going to suffer. Every newspaper will only write about the ban and not about the song contest,” Ingrid Deltenre added.
At the same time, there is a real prospect that Kyiv could lose the right to host the contest, in which case Eurovision would be moved to Germany. The EBU general director is clearly heard saying, “we have everything reserved in Berlin.”
Ingrid Deltenre made a comparison between hosting the Eurovision and hosting the Olympic Games, saying that Ukraine would not be allowed to ban athletes from Russia. “This can only be done by the International Olympic Committee and the same goes for the song contest. It can only be the EBU who bans someone to participate. It cannot be done at the country level.”
However, the EBU have swiftly denied the report of moving the contest. Lenta.ru quotes senior communications official David Goodman from the EBU as saying that holding the contest in Ukraine remains their top priority.
Towards the end of the call, the pranksters tell Ingrid Deltenre that the Ukrainian side can accept Julia’s participation if Ukrainian president Poroshenko (in blackface) and Jamala are allowed to sing and rap together about Russia’s aggressive stance during the contest. Obviously in disbelief, but still thinking she is talking to the Ukrainian PM, Deltenre says, “I will have to discuss it with the Reference Group, but I am 90% sure that they will not allow it.”
Ingrid Deltenre’s concession to the “Ukrainian prime minister” would be to limit the movement of the Russian delegation, to keep it to a minimum number of people and to ensure their security.
Wiwibloggs reached out to the EBU to confirm the veracity of the Russian reports that Ms Deltenre did fall victim to the pranksters. They responded as follows:
“The EBU will not comment on prank calls. Our top priority remains concentrating on producing a spectacular Eurovision Song Contest with our Member UA:PBC in Kyiv in May.”
Interestingly, they did not deny that the call took place, nor that Eurovision could, in fact, still be moved.
Moving the contest at such short notice would create a new (excuse the pun) host of issues. Relocating the competition when the stage is already under construction would be a logistical nightmare, not only from the point of view of running the show, but also with all the adjacent facilities. And that does not even include the fact that the fans and the press have already booked flights and accommodation and bought tickets for the show in Kyiv.
If the contest were to be moved, it would likely be staged on a much smaller scale — perhaps in a studio, rather than a massive arena. Our Internet sleuthing reveals that all of Berlin’s major venues are already booked for the set dates for Eurovision 2017.
What are your thoughts about the idea of moving the contest to Berlin, in order to accommodate Russia? Is this fake news or is the EBU ready for any possibility? Sound off below!