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.”