She’s the Ukrainian star who won Vidbir 2019 just days ago with an explosive performance of her entry “Siren Song”. But ever since MARUV’s victory, the drama has been non-stop. Broadcaster UA:PBC requested that MARUV must sign a contract stating she would cancel all her upcoming shows and appearances in Russia. But now the star has spoken out and revealed more details about what this contract — which must be signed by lunchtime today — requires of her.
In a post on Facebook, MARUV notes that “the last 24 hours have been the most emotional in my life”. But despite talk of other countries being interested, MARUV is determined to represent Ukraine — and only Ukraine — at Eurovision 2019.
“I am Ukrainian, I love my country and I am proud to represent Ukraine in Tel Aviv at the international Eurovision Song Contest 2019, despite the fact that within a day I received offers from three different countries to represent them. But my answer is categorical — I perform for Ukraine and no one else!”
Yesterday, Russian producer Iosif Prigogine offered to send the singer to Eurovision 2020 as a representative for Russia. Whilst speaking to the radio station Moscow Says, he said she has “crazy potential”. However, MARUV’s recent statement indicates that she would not accept such an offer.
MARUV notes that she is ready to cancel her performances in Russia. In reference to the issue of the Crimea region, which Eurovision 2016 champion Jamala brought up at the grand final of Vidbir, MARUV states: “I haven’t visited Crimea since 2014; I did not violate a single law of Ukraine. I am also ready to take all the costs of participation in the international competition”.
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However, MARUV also reveals a lot more details of the other requirements that UA:PBC (referred to as NTCU in Maruv’s post) would like to place upon her in the contract. She explains:
“And now about the contract itself, which they demand from me:
1. I am banned from any improvisation on the stage without the approval of the UA:PBC. (uncoordinated splits, for example, will lead to a fine of 2 MILLION UAH)
2. Immediate copyright transfer of the song to the international label of Warner Music (these rights were known about before the competition started)
3. Clearly fulfil any requirements and instructions of UA:PBC. (In theory, I can be forced to dance at the birthday of some politician, and in case of refusal, I will be disqualified and fined 2 MILLION UAH. Plus compensate UA:PBC for the alleged losses!)
4. A ban on communication with journalists without consent of the UA:PBC. (which completely violates the freedom of speech and human rights)
And there’s still a lot of things to do. In case of a violation of one of the points, a fine of 2 million uah and compensation of losses is still on the amount of.”
For reference, 2 million Ukrainian hryvnia (UAH) currently equates to approximately €65,300 or £56,700.
The second point raised by MARUV relates to the copyright ownership of “Siren Song”. The singer is currently signed with the Russian branch of Warner Music, who also hold the copyright for her potential Eurovision entry. It seems that the broadcaster is requesting the transfer of this copyright, so that they may have control of it leading up to the contest.
The star goes on to criticise the broadcasters lack of financial support with any matters related to the contest:
“In return from UA:PBC, I do not get anything: not a penny of financial support, nor assistance in the organisation of the trip, nor, especially, international promo support. I even have to arrange a visa myself.
Although in the contract there are only a few items of responsibility for UA:PBC:
1. Give me advice regarding the rules of the contest.
2. With the permission of UA:PBC, take 10 people with you at your own expense.
3. Adhere to the terms of this contract.”
Finally, MARUV calls on the support of the independent press and international fans to support her through this period in which she believes there are “obvious attempts to make [her] refuse to represent [her] country”.
It is clear that MARUV is unhappy with the way that the broadcaster has dealt with the situation, and the demands they have made of her in the contract. However, she also demonstrates a clear desire to represent Ukraine in Tel Aviv in May, and does not want to give up on that dream just yet.
How did the situation develop?
The eurodrama started early on in Saturday’s grand-final. After an unclear answer on the matter of Russia from MARUV — who has performed a number of times in the neighbouring country — Jamala decided to give the singer an example of a question she might face at a Eurovision press conference from a hard-nosed journalist. Jamala asked: “Crimea, is that Ukraine or…?” to which MARUV immediately replied: “Ukraine, of course.”.
Furthermore, right before the voting lines opened, host Serhiy Prytula read out a note given to him by broadcaster UA:PBC. The message stated that the broadcaster might still reject the winner of Vidbir, as the selection show is mostly organised by commercial broadcaster STB, while UA:PBC are responsible for things at Eurovision itself.
— Ron K. (wiwibloggs) (@Ronkesc) February 23, 2019
In the end, MARUV came out on top, scoring eleven points (five from the jury and six from the public). However, before the confetti was even allowed to settle, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minster, Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, took to Twitter to note his disagreement with the result:
“The representative of Ukraine cannot be an artist who toured in the aggressor state, plans to do it in the future and sees nothing unacceptable in this. Therefore, the story with the selection of participant from Ukraine is far from complete.”
UA:PBC subsequently included a note on their website revealing that they did indeed plan to review the decision of the national final, and undertake checks for “compliance”:
“The public broadcaster has provided the winner of the national selection a contract with the terms of participation in the international Eurovision Song Contest 2019 to review. The official announcement of a representative of Ukraine at Eurovision 2019 will be held on completion of the check of musicians for compliance and after the signing of the contract.”
Exactly what those checks would involve were not initially revealed.
Europe eventually went to sleep, with hope that the morning after the night before might bring a bit more clarity to the situation.
Further information eventually came through Alexander Koltsova, a board member of UA:PBC, who told the press that MARUV had 24 hours to look over the contract and accept its requirements. She also noted that a final decision about whether the “Siren Song” singer would be Ukraine’s representative in may would be taken within 48 hours.
Clarification about exactly what was stated in the contract was revealed later by Viktoriia Sydorenko, the Director of Public and Media Relations department of UA:PBC. In a Facebook post, where she answered a series of fan questions about the on going decisions, she confirmed that the checks for compliance included a clause in the contract given to MARUV stating the singer must cancel all shows and appearances in Russia should she wish to represent Ukraine in Tel Aviv.
Ms Sydorenko also confirmed there was no rule that stated acts entering Vidbir could not have previously performed in Russia. However, should they wish to go on to participate in Eurovision then they must accept the contract, including the ban on touring in Russia.
Who could be MARUV’s replacement?
Should MARUV not accept the broadcaster’s terms, or UA:PBC decides not to select the singer, the question remains of who would replace MARUV as Ukraine’s representative for Eurovision 2019.
The obvious choice may be the runners-up of Vidbir, Freedom Jazz. The group earned top marks from the jury, but only placed third with the televote, putting them just behind MARUV in the overall rankings. Yet, the jazz vocal trio have also previously performed in Russia, undertaking a dinner show and club night at the WoW club in Moscow as recently as June 2018. Would the broadcaster also question this appearance?
It is perhaps unlikely that other Vidbir acts YUKO or Anna-Maria would be chosen. Both were also subject to harsh scrutiny over their links to Russia at the grand final last Saturday. That just leaves KAZKA and Brunettes Shoot Blondes, who had placed third and fourth, respectively. Would either of them be willing to now take up the task of singing in Tel Aviv?
MARUV gains support from Philip Kirkorov
In an interview with MK.RU, Russian Eurovision maestro Philip Kirkorov has shown his support for MARUV. He noted that the singer dealt with the questions of the Vidbir jury very well:
“I am very pleased that the talented girl has openly told the truth that Eurovision is a song contest and nothing more. She won the final and was honoured to represent Ukraine. And people voted for her and her song without any political affiliation. This is the most important thing, no matter how she was provoked nor brought to tears during this most difficult test. She adequately answered, adequately held and adequately won the competition. She is quite courageous, open, and in fact she had the most fashionable song, she won by right — by the vote of viewers.”
The “Dream Team” member also noted that MARUV was a part of Sergey Lazarev’s team on The Voice Ukraine in 2014 (then known as Anna Korsun) and she has only had positive things to say about Russia’s Eurovision 2019 star since. Could we end up seeing a battle between the coach and the student in Tel Aviv?
What do you make of the contract given to MARUV? Do you think the demands expressed by the broadcaster are fair? How do you think MARUV should go on from here? Let us know in the comments below!