Alekseev has already survived a storm of criticism. During Belarus’ national final, the Ukrainian faced allegations of cheating and watched a fellow competitor withdraw because he didn’t want Alekseev in the show. And even now many other Belarusians have been critical of the fact a “foreigner” is representing them. 

Well now Alexander Rybak — the Minsk-born contestant representing Norway — has spoken out to defend Alekseev. In a long interview with the Belarusian news portal tut.by, the Norwegian singer with Belarusian roots said:

“As far as I know, the rules of the national selection did not prohibit [a foreign artist representing the country]. I hope that Belarusians support Nikita, because without this support for an artist it can be difficult. At the same time, I am glad that the Norwegian people are not against their country being represented by someone with Belarusian roots. That is great luck.”

He believes that Norwegians don’t make a fuss about his background because “artists are probably valued more for having talent.”

Interview with Alekseev at Eurovision in Concert 2018

Alekseev is not the only “foreigner”

Let’s remember that Alekseev is not the only artist representing a country where they don’t have citizenship. Bulgaria’s Equinox includes members from the United States; Maltese singer Jessika is representing San Marino alongside German Jenifer B; Latvian singer Laura Rizzotto spent most of her life in Brazil and the US, and the Polish entry features the Swedish vocalist Lukas Meijer.

Countries routinely send artists who were born abroad, but have made lives in their new country. This year the list includes Norway’s Alexander Rybak, and Italy’s Ermal Meta and Cyprus’ Eleni Foureira — both of whom were born in Albania.

Luxembourg counts five wins at the contest — making it one of the most successful countries in Eurovision history. None of these wins came from a Luxembourg national.

Monaco’s only winner Séverine was said to have never visited the microstate when she won Eurovision in 1971.

Do you agree with Alexander Rybak on the matter? Is it important to be a national of the country you represent? Let us know in the comments below!

Read all our Belarus coverage here

Total
143
Shares

52
Leave a Reply

avatar
18 Comment threads
34 Thread replies
2 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
22 Comment authors
Purple MaskJonasFugHvala neMalin Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Fug
Guest
Fug

What about Gina G from Brisbane representing England?

Malin
Guest
Malin

Well Mejier is from Sweden and the songwriters are swedish! I can understand if people from Poland don’t like that. But if they should win, nobody would care in the long run. Everybody would think that Poland won. Like Azerbadjan 2011 when the songwriter, koreografetc were from Sweden. Nobody care about that now. It was Azerbadjan that won.

Andrei
Guest
Andrei

Alexander Rybak noticed that his entry song was not appreciated by the audience and maybe he wants to be highlighted by an attack on Aleksev.

AngieP
Guest
AngieP

I think there’s much fuzz about it without any particular reason. It’s not sth new. There are several artists this year not born in the country they represent. However, they have an established career there, they speak the language, they live there etc. Besides, that has happened over the years, even before 20 or 30 years. The best example is Luxembourg. All winners were French and one was greek (Vicky Leandros is 1972). Celine Dion who represented Switzerland in 1988 is Canadian. We could go on and on. I totally agree with Alexander on this matter. It doesn’t matter if… Read more »

Tibor
Guest
Tibor

I really don’t get what the fuss is all about. The music world is an international world. Why forbid musicians to collaborate across borders? Moreover, Eurovision was created to overcome borders after WWII, not to emphasize them. This neonationalist zeitgeist is starting to get on my nerves.
Having said that, it’s ridiculous to buy acts just for the purpose of winning a competition. That goes for Eurovision as well as for sports. But that didn’t happen in the case of Alekseev, as far as I know, did it?

Danny
Guest
Danny

Then there’s a major glitch with the Eurovision logic. It supposed to unite nations but creates a competition between countries where artists compete not just as individuals but under a specific flag. If there was no price beside the honour of winning, it could somehow work. But the winning country has the right to host the contest, for many countries its the only chance to host a big international event in order to show off their culture and development. If anyone can represent any country, why there are flags? Why there is a “parade of NATIONS” in the final? Nothing… Read more »

Tibor
Guest
Tibor

I don’t see the glitch. You should vote for songs not for countries. I’m aware that that is not, what actually happens all the time, but it should be, and I’m apparently not the only one to think so, because otherwise always the same country would win, wouldn’t it? And aren’t the votings the lamest that predictably always give their twelve points to the same country regardless of the song? That’s a travesty of the ESC idea.

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

I have said this before, and will say so again: There is no practical reason for countries to be represented at the Eurovision Song Contest at all. There is a preference, but not an actual practical reason. The contest could just as easily be a contest of songs by song title only.

However, the EBU would rather the contest keep its political history and not adapt to the globalisation of the 21st Century. In the long term, I think this is a mistake. I also have the same opinion on international sporting events.

Danny
Guest
Danny

Watching countries compete against each other brings much more crowd than watching individuals (most of whom are absolutely anonymous) compete against each other. I can assure you that if the contest become not a national but an individual one, it’s ratings will drop very very dramatically.

Tibor
Guest
Tibor

Well, I guess, there is the practical reason that you have to limit the number of entries somehow. And the easiest way to do that is presumably to grant one entry to one country. But that’s about it. To make the contest a token of “cultural difference” would really mean rotating its purpose by 180 degrees. And historically speaking, the contest was never about anything like “traditional music” or “cultural identity” (whatever that is). If I’m not mistaken, a contest of “traditional” music existed once in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the German speaking parts of Italy, but it has been… Read more »

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

@Tibor: Yes, good point about the “cultural” music contest flopping. There are other ways of narrowing the selection down of course. It will be interesting to see how many rival Song Contests spring up over the next 50 years or so.

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

Purple Mask, there may be no practical reason, but that’s the concept of the show. That’s a large part of the reason why I (and others) love it. There’s no practical reason to have a contest at all – music & art are not competitive. It is what it is, and I would hate to see it change.

How would your idea work in practice? One song from each host broadcaster? That, in essence, is the same thing.

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

@Jonas: Just to start with a slight tangent, it looks to me as if the contest is partly moving towards a record label-based system anyhow, since many broadcasters are struggling to sponsor ESC entries by themselves. The other trend that has happened lately is songwriting camps. It is becoming more difficult for non-established songwriters (such as myself) to enter a song into ESC without first connecting with an established artist or a record label – that is an unfortunate reality, and the songwriting camps are a direct consequence of that reality. There are ways to fix these issues; working more… Read more »

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

I posted a response but disappeared into a moderation queue, it seems. Briefly, what I said was basically that they are all great ideas – but for a different contest. The Eurovision has lasted over 60 years with its concept intact, and I think such a radical change in format would put that longevity in doubt. What incentive would broadcasters have to show your version of the contest? What vested emotion would the viewer have with national pride? No, I don’t think your ideas are right for the contest but I do see their merit. Also, UTV is the Northern… Read more »

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

@Jonas: Yes, that’s understood. If I use “Top Of The Pops” as a UK music show that ended in mid-2000s, then it had a break for a while and has since been completely re-formatted as “Sounds Like Friday Night”. Something similar could happen with Eurovision. Unfortunately that practically means that the old format would first have to die, then there’d be a break for a while before the new format came on. It’s not pretty, but it might be what will happen. And you are correct about UTV. Maybe I was getting mixed up with X Factor UK (& Ireland)?… Read more »

Jonas
Guest
Jonas

Thinking a little further about your idea, it occurred to me that the San Remo contest in Italy has two distinct categories of competition – “Big Artists”, those aligned with record labels and have achieved success, and “New Artists”, for those hoping to make a breakthrough. A winner is declared for each section on different nights. Maybe that might be something that would satisfy everybody if it were to be adapted to the Eurovision Song Contest too. The Eurovision does take a lot of its inspiration from San Remo after all, so it’s not that far-fetched. The X-Factor is show… Read more »

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

@Jonas: Wow, I really like that idea. I know some might argue that it comes across as “two-tier”, but being a songwriter I would argue that having a platform is better than having none at all. If it were to happen, count me in.
🙂

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

If I could deside, I think the songs should be written and preformed by the countries citizens. But since the rules are what they are.. I respect that!

Christian
Guest
Christian

Maybe songwriters yes but I think it’s not too much about the artists but i can remember that we had this discussion here in Germany too in 1969 already when Siw Malmquist represented us. I just can’t stand the fact that countries send songs that were completely written by foreigners and don’t have any connection to the own country (e. g. Austria this year).

Anita
Guest
Anita

“Belarus has been labeled “Europe’s last dictatorship” by some Western journalists
I don’t know how I would feel as somone from Belarus. He is representing a dictatorship that send and finances him – he must not live in this political situation…

wikipedia “the country is labelled as “not free” by Freedom House, as “repressed” in the Index of Economic Freedom, and is rated as by far the worst country for press freedom in Europe in the 2013–14 Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders, which ranks Belarus 157th out of 180 nations.”

Yaa
Guest
Yaa

We already had an article here about Lukashenco & Alekseev, thanks Wiwi! You should know that people are not exactly responsible for the dictatorships they live under! I bet the Belarussians are just as nice as you and I, if not nicer, they like music and Eurovision, they voted for this artist who performs there regularily and is loved there. Russia and by some standards Hungary are not beacons of democracy yet I hope this will not hamper their chances in ESC. Armenia is also in the hot process of a revolution for democracy right now, fingers crossed! How about… Read more »

Anita
Guest
Anita

Don’t imply thoughts that I haven’t stated and don’t have!

Malin
Guest
Malin

Esc should not be about politc, thats my opinion, and I don’t think we should discuss differens countries politcal systems here. We should try to let our love for music be in focus. I think fans from Belarus should feel welcome here. Why make them sad and angry.

Love from Sweden

Danny
Guest
Danny

Why in the olympic games USA couldn’t hire Usain Bolt to break records under their flag? Makes zero cense right? I really don’t get why countries abandon their own musicians and seek for foreign singers, song writers and composers. That should be forbidden by rules and MAYBE allowed only in extreme cases like San Marino which is a tiny tiny place. Countries with Millions of residents should have absolutely no problem to provide a Eurovision team made of the county residents. Otherwise what’s the point of this contest?

Dennis
Guest
Dennis

Lots of nationals are giving away citizenships to other countries people. Best example is Kenyans or Ethiopians who compeed for Baharain, Saudi Arabia…

Yaa
Guest
Yaa

And UK’s Mo Farah?!

Danny
Guest
Danny

From Mo Fahar page on Wikipedia “moved to Britain at the age of eight to join his father”. He moved as a child and spent MOST OF HIS LIFE as a GB citizen. Yes other athletes move to foreign countries but they must receive a citizenship to compete for those countries. Basically they are immigrants, I’m an immigrant so that’s somehow makes cense. As an immigrant you learn about the country’s history, culture, language and become a part of it. In Eurovision you have people who have ABSOLUTELY NO CONNECTION to the countries they represent, like the case with Belarus… Read more »

Yaa
Guest
Yaa

Ah, ok! Didn’ look up! Thanks! But surely you know that many countries import sport talents.

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

Why should athletes represent any country? Why can they not just compete as athletes?

Danny
Guest
Danny

An average athlete and the professional teams (coaches, doctors etc.) receive scholarships and salary from the country budget (your tax payer money). In exchange for that ,the country demands them to represent it. Some athletes get private sponsorships but those only the ones who are already successful and won a bunch of important competitions. There are no private or commercial organisations that grow new athletes, (maybe in football, but not in most of other sports). So most of athletes depend on their country in order to even become an athlete.

Purple Mask
Guest
Purple Mask

Thanks, that’s interesting. So it’s not that they “can’t” compete without state sponsorship exactly; they just do it because they’re entitled to and because everyone else does. Is that right?

Dust
Guest
Dust

Thank you Alexander for defending Alekseev. If Belarus had voted Alekseev to represent their country they should keep supporting him no matter what. He must also have hard feeling for not reprsenting Ukraine as well!
CELINE DION is a French-Canadian but she represented Swisterland in 1988 too! And SHE WON! So no big deal for that!
I really hope he can qualify to the grand finale and shut his haters mouths up! Good luck Nikita<3

Rhy
Guest
Rhy

Eurovision is a contest that crosses borders, nationalities, diversities and so much more, so we shouldn’t be making fuss about such things, as long as the artists are doing their best and giving all they can to represent the countries, whatever their roots may be. It’s all about coming together and celebrating this amazing event, supporting and respecting each other, and I think of the whole Eurovision community. Love and peace! ?

Malin
Guest
Malin

Yes, he goot a new fan from Sweden regardless of the result in ESC.

Curve
Guest
Curve

Don’t hate the player; hate the game. Hate the Belarussian national final for doing this to Alekseev and the other national final participants there. If they really want him to represent their country, they should have internally selected him in the first place.

Yaa
Guest
Yaa

In Romania’s final selection there were italiens, a moldavian, a spanish act and in one of the serious contenders the lead voice was from Phillippines. They were not good otherwise they would have been voted like in 2010 when an englishmen was lead vocal for Romania’s entry ( the only NQ!. What exactly is your problem?

Curve
Guest
Curve

I was talking about the Belarussian national final, you idiot.

Eve
Guest
Eve

He was great in Madrid, I love that performance! Go, Alekseev <3

Malin
Guest
Malin

Yes, I think he did a really good performance there.

Eve
Guest
Eve

And he looked amazing in white 🙂

HoneyBS
Guest
HoneyBS

This year, the bad energy of many (yeah, MANY) ESC fans ends in Alekseev. I feel very sad for him, I think he is an excellent professional who is receiving a dangerous hatred. I know he’s going to get through it, but getting him through this isn’t proper either.

Getting anyone through this is a shame.

We need to value each artist for what it is, an artist, and enjoy Eurovision in peace.

Malin
Guest
Malin

Yes, esc should be fun.

Yaa
Guest
Yaa

Boy, how you love hammering Belarus this year! You have forgoten that Croatia released her song 2 weeks after the Romanian rapper, no mention about this incident in recent articles, yet everything bad about Alekseev is your agenda. You ranked him #29, do not see him qualify, it’s your taste and I can deal with that. I suggest you look at the number of views he scores even in Wiwi videos and realize that this is not an ordinary entry. As for the fact that he’s Ukrainian representing anothe country from CIS, this is really a non issue. Moldova 2015… Read more »

Hvala ne
Guest
Hvala ne

Stop bullying Croatia. It is not Franka’s fault that the producer sold the unmastered instrumental to someone else. Both the producer and the Romanian guy apologized in the end, because they made harm to a girl who obviously cares for her entry. Unlike many diva entries, she wrote her own song. I am one of the few who actually enjoys the song and appreciates Franka’s effort. It’s unfair that people are blindly screaming plagiarism!! without caring to hear the full story.

Yaa
Guest
Yaa

It was not Franka’s fault, to be sure, the composer sold the track on the side, it was not the rapper’s fault, he bought it legit, I’m ok with this, let Croatia defend her chances! But why the double measure? Why former scandals are repeatedly put up in Belarus’ case? Why are some countries always praised and others bashed?

Hvala ne
Guest
Hvala ne

It’s not really about Belarus, I understand your frustration and it’s indeed unfair to the artist but a foreigner representing a country, that should definitely be discussed. In my opinion if more and more foreigners compete for another country Eurovision will loose its charm.

Apple
Guest
Apple

There’s literally no reason to hate on him for not being Belarusian. It shouldn’t even be an issue. I will say that with how national their entry was last year (with Naviband singing in Belarusian rather than English or even Russian) I can see how this might seem like a step in the wrong direction to people in the country.

Malin
Guest
Malin

Ukrain and Belarus can be very proud of Alekseev. His song is fantastic and bouth countries get attention throu him.

Good luck Alekseev

Malin
Guest
Malin

… and good Alexander.

Aria
Guest
Aria

Did Aleksander have comments on how a pathetic song came to represent Norway?

Kris
Guest
Kris

Well his name and face were there for the interview too….so he didn’t need to comment

Steph
Guest
Steph

This article is about Alexander defending Alekseev, not about his own entry. Geez, why do you have to be so rude? Alexander is an extremely nice guy and yet you obviously are one of the people who love ripping his song apart – which I don’t understand. Why don’t you just try supporting your faves and leave those alone who you don’t like? Didn’t you ever hear the expression “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all?”