Val Belarus Eurovision 2020 Da Vidna

On Thursday VAL — that’s Vladislav Freimann and Valeria Gribusova — openly criticised Belarus’s state broadcaster BTRC. Speaking to Interesnye Lyudi, they claimed they were essentially forbidden from speaking to unsanctioned media and that they were under the thumb of the broadcaster owing to a strict contract. Among other things, they said they would have to perform at concerts for the state.

“We knew that if we didn’t show up at a concert, then it was 99% likely that [the broadcaster] would choose a new artist next year.”

Well BTRC has now responded with an explosive statement. Besides refuting VAL’s comments point by point, it also makes it clear they will not represent Belarus in Rotterdam.

“After reading the interview, we want to say only one thing. The VAL group will not go to Eurovision 2021 and this is not because something ‘broke’ at BTRC or because censorship is raging, but because the artists of the VAL group have no conscience.”

BTRC’s full statement — and their refutation of VAL’s interview —  was published on its ATN News Telegram page. We are reprinting much of it below.

BTRC confirms VAL will NOT sing for Belarus at Eurovision 2021

First, the broadcaster denied that Eurovision artists are pressured to perform at events.

“For the ‘intimidated’ Vlad we explain: The contract, which is concluded between Belteleradiocompany and the representative of Belarus at the Eurovision Song Contest, does not contain any requirements for participation or non-participation in concerts, whether public or private. In standard contracts, it is purely about the preparation and participation in the competition and participation in television projects…We do not care where you performed, perform and will perform.”

Second, in their interview VAL mentioned that they were treated unfairly because they are “non-conforming” artists.

The broadcaster pointed out that neither the public, nor the international jury, ranked VAL first in the national final.

“Note that the degree of your ‘non-conformity’ surprised even Europe. According to bookmakers, if you had gone to Eurovision, you would have taken the next-to-last place in the two semifinals.”

“Secondly, so that even non-conforming participants, whom the Belarusian jury cannot ‘appreciate’ for their true worth have a greater chance of getting to Eurovision, for the first time in history we gathered European experts in the jury who, we recall, did not see you as the winner of the selection (nor the viewers). This was also done so that the artists would finally stop calling all the familiar Belarusian composers and musicians, producers of our company, asking who will be on the jury. I think there is no need to explain…”

“We accepted the selection results with respect and a desire to put all our efforts into achieving the best result in the final. Although, somewhere we agree with you — the system is a little ‘jammed’. Probably, a duo that was neither chosen by the audience nor the jury should not represent the country at the international competition.”

Third, VAL described BTRC’s approach to them as “distant”. The broadcaster, however, claims it was putting in its all to help them achieve a good result.

“The ‘distant’ work of BTRC involved negotiations with some of the best directors of Eurovision. As a result: the performance was to be directed by the director of the winner of Eurovision 2014 Conchita Wurst and the performances of Austria at Eurovision 2018 (3rd place) Marvin Dietman, and the famous Cypriot Alex Panayi was to become the vocal teacher. At the same time, Belteleridiocompany was ready to pay for the work of specialists, which is not at all necessary under a contract. And this is not to mention the numerous broadcasts and reports of Eurovision, which became additional PR for the artists.”

“We did it all from the heart. In vain.”

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Polegend Godgarina
Polegend Godgarina
1 month ago

good luck with finding someone who agrees with that fraudulent dictator lmao

Anders
Anders
2 months ago

If a country can´t seperate poitics and eurovision, this country should stay away. Ukraine don´t belong in the eurovision family too. I already know I will have these two countries on my last places from now on.

Azaad
Azaad
2 months ago

Credit to VAL. But at this point perhaps Belarus need to withdraw from 2021?

Colin
Colin
2 months ago

I can only respect Val for choosing to say what they think about the injustices in Belarus over their spot at ESC 2021. I hope to see them again at ESC at some point when things get better. As for BTRC’s remarks on their qualification probability, while perhaps not untrue, they should bounce back to them like a boomerang. If Da vidna would’ve stayed in the semi, it’s because BTRC offered no better song in their NF and otherwise often chooses underproduced songs further botched by awful English enunciation. Val at least gave us something that felt more authentic. When… Read more »

Surprise!
Surprise!
2 months ago

A dictatorship mistreating artists??? No way!

Fast Food Music Lover
Fast Food Music Lover
2 months ago

Respect to these guys for standing what is right!

Jimmy Smit
Jimmy Smit
2 months ago

Wow, Karen. Stop doing press on behalf of BTRC, you’re making them sound really bitter and petty.

WannaEatMySpaghetti
WannaEatMySpaghetti
2 months ago

A lot of people seem to be surprised. I’m not. What else can we expect from this nasty Belarus’s state broadcaster and from a dictatorship in general? Don’t need to know a lot in political field to have a clear answer. Just look at all the problems that happened in the eurovision world because of Belarus or even in their national final… racism, homophobia, lies, cheating.
I have only one think to say: good luck Belarusian people. You’ll need it to continue the fight against the autorithies.

Last edited 2 months ago by WannaEatMySpaghetti
Joe
Joe
2 months ago

In happier news regarding Eastern Europe(-adjacent) countries, I have a feeling Kazakhstan is going to win Junior Eurovision this year.

Joe
Joe
2 months ago
Reply to  Joe

Seeing her performance and knowing the backstory, I would be surprised if Kazakhstan aren’t in for another strong finish at the very least.

Michael
Michael
2 months ago
Reply to  Joe

We’re spending all this time rightfully criticizing Belarus for being a dictatorship, yet you’re supporting another dictatorship winning Junior Eurovision?

Joe
Joe
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael

I’m not trying to sound stupid here, but is Kazakhstan a dictatorship? If so, I take it all back.

Michael
Michael
2 months ago
Reply to  Joe

Well, yes. Their “President” was Nursultan Nazarbayev from 1991-2019, he stepped down in 2019 and had one of his allies take the presidency but is still basically in control. All you need to know is that, after he stepped down, Kazakhstan changed their capital’s name from Astana to Nur-sultan (which, you know, is his first name).

Joe
Joe
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Oh dear.

Ron
Ron
2 months ago
Reply to  Joe

Democracy Index classifies Kazakhstan as an authoritarian country ranking 139 out of 162 countries. From countries that participate in Eurovision, Azerbaijan and Belarus are the other two authoritarian regimes. Azerbaijan ranks 146, Belarus 150.

In Press Freedom Index, Kazakhstan ranks 157/180 countries. Azerbaijan ranks at 168 while Belarus ranks at 153.

So no, we don’t need another authoritarian country in Eurovision.

Alex
Alex
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Exactly, thank you! Some fans are campaigning for Kosovo and Kazakhstan to join ESC and it’s so ironic and wrong at the same time. Well, Kosovo is another story but Kazakhstan shouldn’t enter the contest. First of all, it’s too Asia for Eurovision (Israel and Australia are closer culturally speaking) and they have a low record for human rights. I bet EBU allowed them for Junior Eurovision due to low number of participating countries and interest. They’re doing well in Junior Eurovision bc they take it seriously. Speaking of countries with low record of human rights and authoritarian regimes, Azerbaijan… Read more »

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex

Kazakhstan’s broadcaster have long been campaigning to take part in the adult contest for a long time. For the most part, the broadcaster does not meet all the requirements needed to be a full EBU member and they can only rely on being given an invitation at the union’s discretion, which has yet to be extended beyond JESC. Remember, the EBU is not some political body that exercises large and far-reaching powers but a collective of mostly public service media. We give them too much credit than they deserve. They can’t punish a member (full or otherwise) for merely having… Read more »

Ron
Ron
2 months ago
Reply to  James

EBU has the power to exercise a “far-reaching” power when it’s convenient for their interests. In 2005, EBU had no problem kicking Lebanon out of the contest after their government indicated they would not broadcast the Israeli entry. Ironically, in 2009 Azerbaijan did not broadcast the Armenian entry and then blurred their voting number but EBU chose to impose a “small” undisclosed fine (it was later revealed that the previous executive producer was handsomely bribed by Ictimai TV which by the way is a state controlled TV channel).

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Ron

In that case, we can assume the EBU threatened Ictimai of serious consequences with their membership in addition to paying a fine if it continues not showing Armenian performances in future editions.

Of course, such decisions are sure to be put into a vote for the Reference Group so we can assume it was between getting them banned from EBU-sanctioned events for a long time, to letting them participate with the condition and assurance of showing Armenian performances or risk getting booted out for good.

Una
Una
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex

Just besides the Kazakhstan issue – Israel is a full member of EBU. Full stop. Australia is an associate member.
And as far as I remember, Morocco and Lebanon too are full members. The “European cultural element” has nothing to do technically with EBU. It’s a union of broadcasters and this union has to do with TV signal reception from before the satellite era so it’s more about geography if you like than “European cultural elements”. I emphasise that I am the one who mentioned “European cultural elements” as in “culturally European”.

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Let’s just say that supporting an artist from a country ruled by a dictatorship doesn’t necessarily mean supporting the dictatorship itself. Kazakhstan has been exporting some great musical talent for a while now that it’s impossible not to see people be fans of those artists like Dimash and just recently, Daniyela Tuleshova.

Michael
Michael
2 months ago
Reply to  James

I agree that supporting a country’s act doesn’t mean you love the government. Enjoying Daneliya Tuleshova’s music and Kazakhstan’s 2020 JESC should have absolutely nothing to do with the regime. But, first of all, it’s pretty tactless to bring up the potential of a dictatorship winning JESC in an article about a dictatorship and, second of all, authoritarian governments should never be allowed to host. It legitimizes a tyrant’s governance and allows them to spread all sorts of propaganda. Just look at what Baku 2012 was like and Kazakhstan, which takes JESC as seriously as many take ESC, would do… Read more »

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael

The thing is, ESC itself has have history of seeing countries under dictatorships or with not exactly-squeaky clean human rights records host a contest. That speaks more of the union trying to get these countries together in a kumbaya despite the obvious bad things the respective governments of their members have done. Prime example being Spain when it hosted once, and of course Israel for the three times it took the contest home. Belarus had just come off hosting JESC a couple of years ago, and Poland, with a government that harbors an extreme prejudice towards immigrants, is hosting JESC… Read more »

Whisker
Whisker
2 months ago
Reply to  James

Don’t forget about the “LGBTI free-zones” that were recently created.

Ron
Ron
2 months ago
Reply to  James

Except in most cases, the artists that come from authoritarian regimes are used as puppets to promote their dictatorships Belarus and Azerbaijan both prime examples of that.

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Ron

We could say the same with all other major global competitions.

Una
Una
2 months ago
Reply to  James

Exactly.

Nicky
Nicky
2 months ago
Reply to  Joe

no not with that outdated snooze lol, and kazakhstan will never win anything as they are not part of europe

eerr
eerr
1 month ago
Reply to  Nicky

yiouiuiouiui

Last edited 1 month ago by eerr
Milan
Milan
2 months ago

When a broadcaster accuses an artist of “having no conscience” you now how things stand in a country. As one who has lived in a dictatorship for some part of his life, I can only say that VAL can be proud of NOT representing Belarus in Eurovision – that is, not until some things change.

Una
Una
2 months ago
Reply to  Milan

Very interesting. It looks like Belarus has not signed the European Convention of human rights and fundamental freedoms. I don’t know about their constitution. Is there anyone who knows what human rights documents they have in Belarus and if so, do they have the freedom of expression and freedom of consciousness? Meaning, one can think what they want even if it is against the status quo and have the possibility to express that without fear of punishment? There are some standards from what I know as in one cannot incite violence and so on.

Darren
Darren
2 months ago

Be lucky if Belarus even go at all next year the way things are going over there.
Hopefully not another political song contest next year, especially after all that went down this year.
We’ll see how it goes but I can see the situation in Belarus elevating somewhat in the way Ukraine did in 2014.
Watch this space guys.

Ron
Ron
2 months ago

Sounds like Belarussian broadcaster is using the same contract Ukraine has been using. EBU needs to step in to protect the rights of artists in authoritarian countries that are part of the EBU.

1998
1998
2 months ago

It would be better for Belarus to skip the 2021 contest after all this madness, to reorganise themselves and then to come back.

Nicky
Nicky
2 months ago
Reply to  1998

then cancel esc2021, and blame it all on adolf lukashenko

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
2 months ago

This is quite unprofessional, albeit entertaining, from BTRC. A copy of the actual contract would of course clear this up rather more quickly than such a statement. Transparency is the operative word, no?

Joe
Joe
2 months ago
Reply to  Purple Mask

You’re expecting them to be transparent?

Whisker
Whisker
2 months ago
Reply to  Purple Mask

Right!

Ieva
Ieva
2 months ago

Wow, such a scornful text from the broadcaster.

Pancake
Pancake
2 months ago

The fact that BTR did VAL dirty like that and the fact that a lot of Belarus’ past participants called out the government (except for a few) should be taken as a sign for any artist out there (wether they’re Belarusian or not) to not participate for Belarus next year unless the situation calms down.
The Belarusian do not need these kind of treatment from their government, they deserve better!

Kenneth
Kenneth
2 months ago

Why dictatorships like Belarus are allowed to participate at all is beyond me

Whisker
Whisker
2 months ago

I am also hoping that no reputable stage directors, vocal coaches and such would ever agree to work with that broadcaster.

Una
Una
2 months ago
Reply to  Whisker

This is a very good point, Whisker. Or artists.

Héctor
Héctor
2 months ago

BTR might have some points about the quality of the act itself but those statements were harsh, disrespectful and unnecesary…

Whisker
Whisker
2 months ago
Reply to  Héctor

VAL are great.

Whisker
Whisker
2 months ago

The state of Belarus is Russia’s pawn. The people of Belarus are brave. VAL are brave. VAL are too good for the broadcaster. The broadcaster should be banned from participating in ESC for as long as the situation doesn’t change for the better in Belarus. Way to enable and give credibility to a State that treats the people they way they do. SO EBU, I AM LOOKING AT YOU.

Raul
Raul
2 months ago

Honestly, BTRC should be banned from 2021 for their utter disrespect towards these two kind souls.
Keep going Belarus and VAL!!! Love and support from Spain

Una
Una
2 months ago

And having read the previous article I can see some inconsistencies content-wise. With the scope of clarity, one or the other or both might have to be reviewed and edited. I can understand that different information comes at different times, and they are written by different wonderful people.

Una
Una
2 months ago

I am so sad for VAL and for Belarus for missing the chance to be represented by their 2020 artists that had won their selection. OMG. It was to be expected. Stay strong VAL because your are *loved*. I too await another opportunity for them to represent their country. If they want to. Depending on how the situation in Belarus evolves, I may review my opinion that all countries have good people that deserve to be represented in one of the best things that Europe has. I don’t want bad people to use Eurovision for self-promotion.

Alex
Alex
2 months ago

Of all the broadcasters that rejected their artists for next year, this one is the most infuriating.

Jai
Jai
2 months ago

I wish for once the EBU would do something and ban Belarus. What Lukashenko is doing is absolutely horrendous and it shouldn’t be normalized by allowing a mouthpiece for his regime to perform next year while artists and citizens who speak out against tyranny and oppression are ridiculed ,imprisoned and killed. But instead Belarus will probably be participating next year and the red and white flag will be banned by the EBU as being “too political”.

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Jai

The most the EBU can do is to give strongly-worded statements calling for governments to allow their public broadcasters to remain independent and free from interference in their functions. But BTRC is far from ever being a true public service media if the state has total control on what it can and cannot do, especially in reporting the news. Any sanctions would only apply if the broadcaster have broken rules that comes with being a member, or even rules of the contest for that matter. With the EB being a “union of broadcasters” that includes Belarus’ own, what relevant action,… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by James
poe-tay-toe-chips
poe-tay-toe-chips
2 months ago

Why do I have this weird feeling that Belarus is going to end up not competing next year?

Una
Una
2 months ago

I think they will participate next year, most likely with the same gvt in place and will make a big show. Priorities are different for different people and their motivation too. No bad gvt will ever miss the opportunity to showcase themselves in the best light possible. I wish that the biggest stage in Europe will not be used for that end. The situation is very complicated. Other countries were forced or made to withdraw or made their own decision to withdraw (Geo 2009, Arm 2012 and Rou 2016). Anything can happen. Let’s remember that Rus supports Blr and that… Read more »

Kazakhstan is europe
Kazakhstan is europe
2 months ago

Good for Val. Anyone who represents Belarus under Lukashenko’s rule is going to risk their career, or at least a large section of fans. I hope that every musician in my country refused to represent this fascist leadership any longer! Žyve Bielaru?!

NickC
NickC
2 months ago

Well, my guess is your broadcaster will start considering Russian or Ukranian artists.

Sabrina
Sabrina
2 months ago

This may be the only case where I’m actually glad that artists selected for 2020’s contest won’t be there to fly their flag in 2021. VAL were only expressing their concerns as citizens and I’m proud of them for refusing to be treated as puppets by the broadcaster/government. Hope to see them in Eurovision someday, representing then a democratic version of their country.

Last edited 2 months ago by Sabrina
Michael
Michael
2 months ago

If BTRC keeps this attitude going, it’s going to be nearly impossible to find an artist who wants anything to do with them. Outside of Alyona Lanskaya, the guy from 2008 and maybe Zena, no one is going to want anything to do with the pathetic boomer tankie anymore.

Colin
Colin
2 months ago

Artists need to be able to express their views and stay safe and respected. I can understand the broadcaster not wanting to collaborate with artists who don’t agree with them, but shutting down the pro-democracy views is worrying.
Stay well, Val.

Last edited 2 months ago by Colin
Briekimchi
Briekimchi
2 months ago

The state broadcaster’s tone and much of the content in their release was unnecessary. Get better PR people and come across more professionally. Val are a small-time musical act, destroying them in the media doesn’t make BTR come across very well at all.
I don’t know what Val’s contractual obligations are or why they didn’t withdraw earlier if they felt so at odds with the broadcaster but still, not cool.

Marcelo
Marcelo
2 months ago
Reply to  Briekimchi

That’s because it was never about the artists nor the music, it was about promoting the regime and the artists and Eurovision are just pieces of the game of doing it. Any decent or at least credible broadcaster would have never used betting odds or “conscience” to discredit an artist. Not even Ukraine’s broadcaster did that with the Maruv fiasco back in 2019. That’s how f-ed up BTRC currently is, but I guess that’s just typical dictatorship stuff.

ESCFanGA
ESCFanGA
2 months ago

Not surprising at all. I imagine BTRC will instead select a pro-Lukashenko performer to represent Belarus in 2021.

Ron
Ron
2 months ago
Reply to  ESCFanGA

Expect a repeat of 2011 – I Love Belarus….

laiuli
laiuli
1 month ago
Reply to  Ron

agree

Andreu
Andreu
2 months ago

Yeah, I’m sorry but no matter who represents Belarus next year, I cannot support. Not because of the artists but because of what the broadcaster represents as the continuation of living in tyranny. Keep on fighting for freedom! I wish Val the best in their careers.

Last edited 2 months ago by Andreu
Alex
Alex
2 months ago

WOW the response from the state broadcaster is vitriolic for the duo. I guess, if they were in favor of the dictator, they would have been praised. VAL are not puppets (unlike the girl that represented the country in 2019) and they know what they’re saying and ready to sacrifice everything for their country’s freedom. Quite brave to do so when you know you put in danger your participation. If they had not won juries/televoting, then the problem is the broadcaster’s and not VAL’s. I really hope William is not going to take part in a jury for Belarus under… Read more »

Neil
Neil
2 months ago

I am literally crying right now…. They were my underrated favorites of
2020! They did what’s right, they were honorable to their and their countries freedom
knowing they would not go to Eurovision. Hopefully if the Belarusian government is
reformed, they can represent Belarus… Such a wonderful duo and they will always be
remembered in our hearts…

Jo.
Jo.
2 months ago

better see that white & red flag waving everywhere next year in Rotterdam!

Last edited 2 months ago by Jo.
Neil
Neil
2 months ago
Reply to  Jo.

That would be so cool, especially if the old government is still in use.
#FORVAL

Last edited 2 months ago by Neil
Una
Una
2 months ago
Reply to  Neil

OMG E0BU may b-a-n that flag for 2021. Not that that mattered to Hatari in Tel Aviv. Same issue, almost no consequence whatsoever.

stommie
stommie
2 months ago

Maybe it is time for EBU to take a stand and ban Belarus.
Best thing would be if AVROTROS invited VAL as a special guest to perform in the grand final.

Liam Lindsay
Liam Lindsay
2 months ago
Reply to  stommie

I concur, also adding Russia and Ukraine to that list as well due to the beef over Crimea.

Marcelo
Marcelo
2 months ago
Reply to  stommie

They won’t. They let this dictatorial regime host two Junior Eurovisions. And if Azerbaijan is anything to come by, they will probably not sanction at all and wait for the controversy to just go away.

Ron
Ron
2 months ago
Reply to  Marcelo

EBU knows all too well where the money is…Belarus hosted JESC 2010 and 2018, Ukraine hosted ESC 2015, 2017, JESC 2009 and 2013, Azerbaijan spent $60 million on hosting ESC 2011…these countries keep throwing money at the EBU and organize various EBU events even if they are highly unprofitable undertakings

Lujxk
Lujxk
2 months ago

i feel so sad for the creative and cool people of belarus, they deserve freedom and happiness , god bless

Jonas
Jonas
2 months ago

Any performer in Belarus needs to stay away from BTRC until these morons are cleared out.

esc2021rotterdam
esc2021rotterdam
2 months ago

If I’d be asked to represent some country in eurovision so it’s definietly not Belarus.

Joe
Joe
2 months ago

Anybody else find it ironic that the two most outspoken Belarusian acts that have been roundly condemned by BTRC are also the only two to have actually performed in Belarusian? Like, way to go against your country. So unpatriotic to sing in your country’s own language.

Ashton
Ashton
2 months ago
Reply to  Joe

I think you’re forgetting about Naviband with Historyja Majho Zyccia, but ur point still stands

Joe
Joe
2 months ago
Reply to  Ashton

That’s what I meant – Naviband and Val

Ashton
Ashton
2 months ago
Reply to  Joe

oh I was thinking you meant ‘the two’ as in the two members of VAL. but I didn’t know BTRC condemned naviband? could u explain what happened there?

Ashton
Ashton
2 months ago
Reply to  Ashton

idk why im being downvoted I just asked a damn question

Euan Crabb
Euan Crabb
2 months ago
Reply to  Ashton

That’s who Joe means Ashton by that. Naviband have also spoken out in the uprising too they’ve taken part in the street protests in Minsk against the disputed elections over there I’ve seen an Instagram post which naviband I believe said we won’t be silenced anymore or something like that.

Frisian esc
Frisian esc
2 months ago

Well this is unsurprising considering brtc largely consists out of russian state journalists since the protest strikes began.

Frisian esc
Frisian esc
2 months ago
Reply to  Frisian esc

It’s gonna be so interesting to see which kind of act would ever agree to represent belarus next year though.

esc2021rotterdam
esc2021rotterdam
2 months ago
Reply to  Frisian esc

Maybe that woman who represented Belarus in 2013 (she’s supporting lukashenko)

Badwoolfgirl
Badwoolfgirl
2 months ago
Reply to  Frisian esc

Worst case scenario, Belarus might end up withdrawing. Remember the fiasco that led to Ukraine withdrawing from the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest?

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Badwoolfgirl

That was more of the case they effed up with how they handled the Maruv situation knowing a number of artists who took part in Vidbir until then have had previous engagements in Russia and didn’t insert the rule about not having commitments in “the aggressor country” until the last minute.

Ashton
Ashton
2 months ago

ok but this is SO rude from BTRC. “no conscience” like ok hun, they are literally a broadcaster that supports Lukashenko and his corruption and brutality so I don’t think they can rly talk

Ashton
Ashton
2 months ago
Reply to  Ashton

and the low blow about the betting odds?? classy, BRTC. lowkey hope you withdraw in 2021 bcos I don’t rly want to support a broadcaster that treats their artists like this and also supports a dictator. sorry to Belarus but just take one year off to think about where they might be headed. I don’t want to see a good artist ruined under BTRC’s views and practices.