In April, Ukrainian authorities banned Russia’s Julia Samoylova from entering the country after they discovered that she had broken laws surrounding Crimea. And on Thursday it emerged that they’d turned their attention to Bulgaria’s Kristian Kostov.
According to Reuters, footage began to circulate online which showed the semi-final two favourite performing in the annexed peninsula. However, unlike Russia’s mooted Eurovision singer, the powers that be have ruled that the “Beautiful Mess” singer did not breach any rules.
The contentious legislation only came into effect in late 2014, months after Kristian’s visit in June of the same year. The rising star entered the region along with his The Voice Kids co-stars for a special concert dedicated to International Children’s Day. He sang two songs. At the time, there were no legal barriers forbidding him from entering the disputed region.
Furthermore, he was only 14 years old. As such, he didn’t have the legal capacity to make decisions on such matters. Additionally, his parents didn’t accompany him on the trip, and organisers never sought consent from them.
In a press release published earlier today, the Bulgarian delegation confirmed that there was no wrongdoing on Kristian’s part. This was backed up by an Interfax report in which the Ukrainian Security Service reiterated that there was no evidence that he’d broken any laws prior to arriving in Kyiv for the contest.
Kristian Kostov at Eurovision 2017
Bulgaria is the favourite to win tonight’s second semi-final. The bookies have the X Factor alum well ahead of the competition with his odds as low as 4/7 and shortening just hours ahead of the semi. His stage show — choreographed by Sweden’s Sacha Jean-Baptiste — exudes a high art sensibility and sees him interacting with digital effects on his LED and those overlayed on the TV screen.
Born in Russia, Kostov is expected to attract much of the televote points that would normally go to the absent Russia. He’s already received much support in the region with Eurovision 2008 winner Dima Bilan backing him to win.