In August 2020, thousands of people across Belarus came out to protest the result of the country’s general election and called for change in the country. Belarus has been embroiled in a tumultuous few months since then as a result of the ongoing protests, some of which have been aimed at Belarus’ national broadcaster BTRC. And now, the Belarusian Culture Solidarity Foundation has formally asked the European Broadcasting Union to strip the broadcaster of its rights to membership, and thus their ability to participate in Eurovision.

For a country to be eligible to compete at Eurovision, one of their television broadcasters must be a full member of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) – the only exception being Australia’s SBS, who is an associate member but was formally invited to participate.

Protestors call for the EBU to remove BTRC from Eurovision

Recently, The Belarusian Telegraph has reported that the Belarusian Culture Solidarity Foundation (BCSF)  has requested for the EBU to remove BTRC’s membership. If this were to happen, this would render BTRC unable to partake in the Eurovision Song Contest.

The Belarusian Culture Solidarity Foundation was established in October 2020 by Sergey Budkin, creator of the internet portal TuzinFM.by. It is an organization headquartered in Estonia that has the aim of providing support to the Belarusian cultural community.

Budkin staunchly opposes the country’s participation in international events if BTRC is to be involved:

“Today, the broadcaster is not about media, but rather an instrument of political pressure and propaganda constantly incited in society. They fire their employees directly for their posts in the networks, break contracts for expressing their civic position. And those who still stay to work are kept under pressure and fear”.

He highlights the situation surrounding VAL, the band that was due to represent Belarus at Eurovision 2020 before its cancellation. BTRC announced that they would not send them again in 2021, saying “Not because something ‘broke’ at BTRC or because censorship is raging, but because the artists of the VAL group have no conscience.”

Eurovision has always been regarded as a politics-free event, with the EBU aiming to bring people across Europe together through music regardless of political beliefs. However, Budkin believes that BTRC can no longer be seen as an politically-unbiased broadcaster:

“As I understand it, the EBU will pretend that Eurovision is out of politics. But if Eurovision is out of politics, then BTRC should definitely be excluded. And if the EBU respects its partners, I must react and sit down at the negotiating table.”

This would not be the first time that anti-government campaigning in Belarus has resulted in changes to international events. The 2021 Ice Hockey World Championship, scheduled for May and June, was originally set to be co-hosted in Minsk and Riga. However, earlier this month, the International Ice Hockey Federation decided to remove Belarus as a host, citing security concerns in the midst of the ongoing protests. Thus, the event will now only be hosted in Latvia.

“Belarus is part of the Eurovision family”

Jan Feddersen, a leading German Eurovision expert from Eurovision.de, disagrees with the motion. Speaking to Deutsche Welle, he believes Belarus belongs to the Eurovision family:

“The movement stands for democratic principles. But refusing Eurovision, even in the form of depriving BTRC of its license, I do not consider a politically rational and popular step.

It has never happened before that a country is deprived of its license because of an autocratic government. And that would be wrong, since the secret of Eurovision is to provide a platform for the European idea.”

Meanwhile, Budkin is sure that BTRC  “is already starting to pack their bags on their way to Rotterdam” since the head of the broadcaster is also the country’s head of delegation for Eurovision.

Budkin notes that the goal of the campaign is to prevent BTRC from showing up to the meeting of the Eurovision heads of the delegation, which is scheduled for March 15 in Rotterdam, “And ideally, exclude them from the EBU”.

Belarus’ selection for Eurovision 2021

For now, Belarus is continuing its selection for Eurovision 2021. BTRC has axed its usual live auditions show, instead putting out an open call for people to submit their entries. However, these submissions must still be live performances of the song.

The United Kingdom’s Eurovision 2006 representative Daz Sampson has entered the selection alongside Belarusian singer Katya Ocean with the song “Give You Love”. Sampson previously auditioned for Belarus’ Nationalny Otbor with Nona, performing the eccentric dance track “Kinky Boots”, but failed to pass to the next stage.

However, regular Nationalny Otbor contestant NAPOLI has announced on her social media that she will not be sending in an entry for BTRC’s Eurovision 2021 selection due to the current political situation.

What are your thoughts on the campaign by the Belarusian Culture Solidarity Foundation? Let us know in the comments.

Read more Belarus Eurovision news here

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Anthony
Anthony
4 months ago

Hungary withdrew from contest due to “gay contest”
Eurovision artists from dictator countries spreading gov’s propaganda
Belarus is going through a crisis

Coincidence? I don’t think so.

1998
1998
4 months ago

Ok, for me this whole thing is pretty confusing.

Jay
Jay
4 months ago

What about the human rights in Azerbaijan, well, lack of them? That Armenia were not guaranteed safety back in 2012 and therefore withdrew? Highly unfair to disqualify a country over a SONG FESTIVAL!! Let them in, their entries are generally good

Polegend Godgarina
Polegend Godgarina
4 months ago

i’m honestly surprised lukashenko hasn’t ended up like ceausescu yet. he will eventually, but still, it’s taking so long !

Anomy
Anomy
4 months ago

honestly reading thru the comments i feel like if belarus were to continue the representative shouldn’t be chosen by a broadcaster but thru other means (aka youtube), which is organised by someone not supportive of the government, and if they win the prizes go to the representative only and (unless something changes government-broadcaster wise), the host country is chosen thru other means (like how sometimes countries be like ‘im bankrupt’ and another country hosts instead). I don’t know if that makes sense but like

RavensHeart
RavensHeart
4 months ago

This so called expert needs to study more

“It has never happened before that a country is deprived of its license because of an autocratic government”

Um, what about Yugoslavia (Serbia)

James
James
4 months ago
Reply to  RavensHeart

RTVE and RTP were never stripped of a ts membership when Spain and Portugal were under a dictatorship respectfully.

Sven
Sven
4 months ago

doesn’t it hypocritical to demand to ban Belarus from Eurovision bc of Lukashenko’ terrorism against his civil people, but say nothing about how EBU should ban Russia 7 years ago when they annexed/stole Crimea, broke every single human rights,broke every single peace treaty they signed, started war in East Ukraine and killed 15k of Ukrainians already, bombed Sirianian civil cities,passed discriminatory lows against LGBT, killing gays in Chechnya, shut down Boeing MH17, constatly poisaning/killing/arresting journalists, activists, oppositionists and thousands others people who daring to speak or protest against Putin’ bloody regime or against war with Ukraine. i think I know… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Sven
Purple Mask
Purple Mask
4 months ago
Reply to  Sven

Okay. But… When I think of all those musicians who will not have a chance to be at the Eurovision Song Contest because of what their leaders (and possibly their broadcasters) do… that is just very sad. Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the best way to push the dictators out is to ban all the musicians and annoy them enough to rise up against their leaders? There’s a thought.

Sven
Sven
4 months ago
Reply to  Purple Mask

a lot of musicians (and millions of civil people) unfortunately support their dictators , so I don’t see any other option but ban them, like Olympic committee did with Russia Federation after they rigged the results of their sportsmen during infamous Olympic Games 2014 in Sochi, they banned them from further participation. and CIA has investigated and proved that Russia bought World Cup 2018,they bribed lots of FIFA officials and many of them got a prison sentence. As we know the member of EBU , Russian broadcaster channel picks artists for ESC, but they also spread Putin’s propaganda 24/7 when… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Sven
Ivan
Ivan
4 months ago

As a Belarusian, I am absolutely against BTRC (or any other government-owned broadcaster from our country) being the part of EBU. Given that everything in Belarus is politics now (people are being prosecuted even for colours of their curtains, trackpants or marshmallows!), I can’t even imagine what kind of BS the authorities will send as the entry. The has to be a borderline.

Marcelo
Marcelo
4 months ago

This has also been discussed in the Eurovision reddit as well. And the thing is that there’s currently no real mechanism within the EBU to ban a broadcaster from participating in the Eurovision because of a government’s authoritarian moves and/or political repression. Interestingly, there is one when money and debt problems come into play but no for punishing dictatorships. The only instance of something of this nature happening was when Yugoslavia was banned from the contest after 1992 because of the wars of independence in Bosnia and Croatia. But that was based on a UNSC resolution and a literal war… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Marcelo
Linus
Linus
4 months ago
Reply to  Marcelo

If EBU dont bann Belarus and hopefully Russia to for locking up navalhny and beating innocent people i will be mad. The icehockey IIHF did NOT want play in Belarus. I love ESC but i dont want killer countries in. Its not fun then. EBU have got 1000 of emails and calls and blocked their instagram for comments so i hope they do the right thing. This will NOT blow over

Thorn
Thorn
4 months ago
Reply to  Marcelo

Well if they cannot suspend the membership what they can do is to forbid the Belarusian delegation from traveling to Rotterdam if this is the scenario of this year’s contest. The head of BTRC who is also leading their ESC delegation has received sanctions and travel ban from the EU for pro-Lukashenko propaganda. I can’t see how the EBU will ignore that. Literally almost none of the participating countries recognises the current government of Belarus and even the IOC has provisionally suspended the Belarusian Olympic Committee. It will be a joke if BTRC will be allowed to take part in… Read more »

Linus
Linus
4 months ago
Reply to  Thorn

1000% agree. also russians are banned from olympics. these 2 countries ARE So corrupt it is sad

Linus
Linus
4 months ago

Do somone want a killer in their family? I dont think so , so KICK BELARUS AND RUSSIA OUT!. When the countries are saved from killer dictators i want them back again. YES this is to much to have them in. Enough is enough. people are beaten to death

Colin
Colin
4 months ago

How about Alyona Lanskaya performing a song with lyrics as subtle as Belarus in 2011, a melody as lovely as Switzerland in 2004 and an arrangement as polished as Moldovan 2018 hopeful Robin Hood? That song’s result would probably bring some cheers in here. 😉

Joke aside, ideally it should be VAL, but with a different broadcaster (or at least, a different team running it) and a different HOD. Also, I wish for Belarus to become a democracy and for all the people to be able to express themselves in peace.

Last edited 4 months ago by Colin
Linus
Linus
4 months ago
Reply to  Colin

Alonya is like Kirkorov a SUPER PRO on dictators and killers putin and Lukasjenko. They have both on their instagrams told everyone how much they love them. they both got a BAD response

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
4 months ago

This all makes me very sad, and I wish the musicians and all of the people of Belarus the very best in sorting things out. Belarus will be missed by the ESC if it has to leave.

Linus
Linus
4 months ago
Reply to  Purple Mask

why do you miss them when they banned VAL from enter this year? its a dictatorship. They are welcome when their killer leader is gone and they have a FREE tv station

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
4 months ago
Reply to  Linus

Because one dictator does not equal all of the musicians or people of Belarus. And I too want VAL back.

Ant
Ant
4 months ago
Reply to  Purple Mask

Belarusians don’t want to participate this year.

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
4 months ago
Reply to  Ant

Then don’t. Simples. Sad though.

Nicolas
Nicolas
4 months ago

Daz Sampson totally disagree.
But why all this hate for Belarus ? When Azerbaijan seems OK ?

Kalla
Kalla
4 months ago
Reply to  Nicolas

Has been particularly bad and prominent in Belarus this year don’t you think lol? Not saying I agree with many things about Azerbaijan. But dont I think it’s a great argument to pass it off cause there’s other countries that lack morals

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
4 months ago
Reply to  Nicolas

Interesting point, although I hardly know anything about the Azeri broadcaster, so… over to someone else.

Dolly
Dolly
4 months ago

Russian block have ruined Eurovision

vlv
vlv
4 months ago

Lukashenko banned “VAL” from Eurovioson because of their civil position.
Lukashenko banned “NAVIBAND” and other music bands from all Belarus TV.
Many people quit BTRC because they didn’t want to lie and for this, they were repressed.BTRC is a means of propaganda and repression.
BTRC doesn’t deserve to be a member of EBU.
This is what the Belarusian people want.

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
4 months ago
Reply to  vlv

Accepting that this is the truth of what is being asked for (sadly), I have two follow-up questions for the people of Belarus:

1. Do you prefer that the rest of Europe and the EBU sit back and wait for Belarus’s political issues to be sorted out before re-inviting the broadcaster to the ESC? Or…

2. Would you like to still continue taking part in the ESC through a different broadcaster (were it to be possible)?

vlv
vlv
4 months ago
Reply to  Purple Mask

Very difficult but very good questions. 1. Lukashenka lost the election. No European country (except Russia) recognized him as a legitimate president. But the police are on his side and he remains in power. And this situation can last for a very long time. Lukashenka needs international events such as the Ice Hockey World Championship and Eurovision to legitimize this regime. We don’t want this.  2. All television in Belarus is controlled by Lukashenka. It is impossible to create a channel in Belarus, as well as do journalistic activities. We have Belsat and Radio Free Europe which Belarusians watch. But… Read more »

waitaminuteholdon
waitaminuteholdon
4 months ago

The Eurovision “fans” really have no sense of right, it appears. Everything just has to happen and everyone just has to participate, debut & return. Doesn’t matter if people are dying!

Mr Eurovision
Mr Eurovision
4 months ago

People, please, stop involving politcs. Eurovision is a SONG contest, there is no place for politics and any other kind of rivalry. Let’s celebrate music, not disunity. Every artist should have a possibility to represent his country on Eurovision stage. Regardless of his religion, race, language, gender or residence.

Robert
Robert
4 months ago

Strange, don’t remember UK, France, Italy being kicked off for invading sovereign countries and killing innocent people

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
4 months ago
Reply to  Robert

That’s a fair point actually. Double standards, indeed.

Europhile
Europhile
4 months ago
Reply to  Robert

No, but the UK did get “nul points” back in 2003 for it, haha.

Linus
Linus
4 months ago
Reply to  Robert

haha propaganda dont work here. REAL facts thanks. Belarus is not ISIS , YET

Whisker
Whisker
4 months ago

Belarus isn’t an independent country anymore so why keep it in EBU? The broadcaster is controlled by Russia too. So EBU, doesn’t it make sense to you that you only need Russia as a member?

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
4 months ago
Reply to  Whisker

Wait, when did Russia invade Belarus? Last week? Last year? I missed that news!

Whisker
Whisker
4 months ago
Reply to  Purple Mask

Russia doesn’t need to invade Belarus!

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
4 months ago
Reply to  Whisker

Russia doesn’t need to invade a country in order to control it? How remote of them.

Esc43
Esc43
4 months ago

NOOOOO. I need them inside

Joe
Joe
4 months ago
Reply to  Esc43

And we need peaceful protestors not to be killed

Una
Una
4 months ago

A new candidate for the televote announcement: “sorry, Germany, zero points”. Just insert “Belarus” instead of “Germany”. From the looks of the situation we won’t need anti-booing technology in the venue.

Ermin
Ermin
4 months ago
Reply to  Una

Why? Lukashenko and Putin should go away. Fight brave people.

Una
Una
4 months ago
Reply to  Ermin

I do no condone in any way what bad people are doing. I just think that the “zero points” could be more effective in showing them that what they are doing is wrong. And that we don’t like them. And that we’re showing them *something*.

Last edited 4 months ago by Una
Kalla
Kalla
4 months ago
Reply to  Una

I’m sure they will still get some healthy points from the likes of Russia!

Una
Una
4 months ago
Reply to  Kalla

Oh I think I was in the “Eurovision fire saga” mode and forgot that the “sorry, Germany, zero points” was said in the GF.
Belarus will most likely not be able to qualify 2021. So there it is. 🙂

Kalla
Kalla
4 months ago
Reply to  Una

Ohhhh hehe, didn’t pick up on that reference sorry hehe! Yes I agree would be a huge shock if the made it to the grand final!

Landon
Landon
4 months ago

I think that Belarus should get an entry, but they won’t represent Belarus, if that makes sense. It should just represent the broadcaster than the country. It’s Norbert the broadcaster’s fault the government is doing this stuff. They shouldn’t be punished just for what the government is doing.

Kalla
Kalla
4 months ago
Reply to  Landon

You do realise BTRC is a government run broadcaster????

Ivan
Ivan
4 months ago
Reply to  Landon

The broadcaster (BTRC) is directly engaged into repressions against the whole plethora of journalists, performers and activists. Including VAL, Naviband, etc. The only decent alternative is Belarusian Culture Solidarity Foundation – and that’s why it asks EBU for support. And as a Belarusian I fully support this outcry

Denis
Denis
4 months ago

I find it wrong. If they exclude that company for being close with government why not exclude all others who are close to government? Like Hungary whose public broadcaster has turned into Orban’s personal channel outlet? I dont see calls for it to be banned ..
Or Poland who is turning more authocratic. TVP is also close to government and approves everything it does. TVP is basically supporting a government who recently banned abortion, therefore every artist who competes also approves of it. Yet I dont see calls for TVP to be thrown out..

EuroNeuro37
EuroNeuro37
4 months ago
Reply to  Denis

Belarusian authorities are literally on the verge of creating concentration camps for peaceful protesters. You might disagree with social conservative policies of Duda or Orban, but come on, that’s not the same thing.

Marcelo
Marcelo
4 months ago
Reply to  Denis

Honestly, Poland and Hungary have been deserving their good share of booing for quite a while now. I mean, if Eurofans were mad about Russia’s unjustified propaganda laws against LGBT+ people, then they should be mad about Poland and Hungary as well. Both countries’ broadcasters (TVP and MTVA) have actively engaged in the demonization and stigmatization of LGBT+ people on behalf of their government, just the same way the Russian government have done.

So yeah, Poland and Hungary should be held into account by Eurofans as well, even if the situation in Belarus definitely deserves more attention and bigger action.

Purple Mask
Purple Mask
4 months ago
Reply to  Marcelo

The trouble is that if Poland or Hungary (or even Russia) were to produce a winning song for ESC, then all those politics usually get thrown out the window. And rightly so, perhaps. Musicians always fall for the music, so politics will always take a back seat anyhow (unless it actually affects the musicians directly). With Belarus we now have the awkward problem of: What happens if Belarus wins the contest? Or, more precisely, what shouldn’t happen?

Colin
Colin
4 months ago
Reply to  Purple Mask

While that is always a theoretical question, in practice Belarus didn’t have the best average track record in terms of music. Two times Belarus should have been in top 10 are in 2007 (which, luckily, they did) and 2009 (a song which didn’t even qualify, but was rightfully acknowledged in ESC special semi in December). Other than that… NaviBand deserved to qualify in 2017 and I guess that some other entries have been passable, but nothing that would even remotely be a threat to win. But yes, the question still stands. In some hypothetical situation that Belarus actually surpasses itself… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Colin
Alex
Alex
4 months ago

?ick the dictator OUT. he’s following ESC so it will hurt him.

They punished VAL so it’s time to show him how it feels.

No Belarus in 2021 please.

Tim Nilsson
Tim Nilsson
4 months ago

The reason why belarus should be removed is that who ever they send will be a supporter of the dictator. VAL was kicked out of eurovision because they dont support the dictator

Colin
Colin
4 months ago
Reply to  Tim Nilsson

There is also a possibility of a contestant who hasn’t declared either way or even someone foreign, like Daz Sampson, who might be completely clueless on what is going on in the country. I think it would be cheeky and ballsy to send someone who is openly supporting the government crackdown. But if so, may they get a nul points.

Last edited 4 months ago by Colin
Una
Una
4 months ago
Reply to  Colin

I am loving this comment so much. Analysis of different scenarios/possibilities. Hahaha!! 🙂

Kalla
Kalla
4 months ago
Reply to  Colin

I personally find it hugely ignorant if an artist signed contracts etc with a broadcaster and said they didn’t know what had happened in Belarus.

Colin
Colin
4 months ago
Reply to  Kalla

Sure they’d be ignorant. And as such, they’d be serviceable to the cause of presentation. Also, I’m not suggesting that someone is *so ignorant* that they don’t even know that there are protests in Belarus, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some foreigner doesn’t know specifics on just how far the oppression goes.

Chris
Chris
4 months ago

Eurovision is not a field for political disagreements. It is a song contest. there is no reason for the removal of Belarus.

Chessguy99
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Change in Belarus can only be achieved by international pressure. Allowing Belarus to participate while other international bodies are condemning and sanctioning them is the kind of support the current government welcomes. This isn’t political, it’s basic human rights.

EuroNeuro37
EuroNeuro37
4 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Give me a break, Val were literally kicked out of Eurovision because they don’t support Lukashenko.

Kosey
Kosey
4 months ago

If Belarus has broken a rule, they should be banned. If they haven’t, they shouldn’t be. It really is as simple as that.

I still contend that the best way to effect positive change is to look for those things that bring us together rather than focusing on those things which will drive us further apart.

Neil
Neil
4 months ago

I’m still salty about VAL because they were my favorite last year… Honestly if they need a 1 year break I would say take it and the drama will be over. I just really hope VAL participates again because they sacrificed their chance at ESC to express freedom

Hellooooo
Hellooooo
4 months ago
Reply to  Neil

Not my favorite, but in my top 5

Yannis
Yannis
4 months ago

He hear every year controversial stories in Belarus. Artists change because disagreements with the broadcaster! Broadcaster sending songs with hypocritical peace and unite messages even though they censor all the political opposition, and a government who does not respect human rights! Eurovision is all about unity and support your opponent! EBU rules are like that! They should ban the broadcaster because we have to show support to the Belarusian people who fight for democracy! Why countries can put sanctions to other countries and not EBU when it does not obey the rules even

Ashton Schier
Ashton Schier
4 months ago

This is a difficult choice, but I have to say that Belarus should take a year off and sort out their broadcaster, or choose another broadcaster. While the Belarusian artists of the music scene should be given their chance to shine, and Lukashenko’s actions are in no way their fault, BTRC has acted abysmally both towards the Belarusian people as a whole and to VAL individually. A year off and some internal reform might do Belarus some good.

Ashton Schier
Ashton Schier
4 months ago
Reply to  Ashton Schier

I’m sorry, how am I being downvoted here? I am agreeing with most people in this comment section that Belarus should take some time off. I-

Kalla
Kalla
4 months ago
Reply to  Ashton Schier

I’m with you!

Marcelo
Marcelo
4 months ago
Reply to  Ashton Schier

In order for Belarus to be represented in Eurovision, the participating broadcaster needs to be a member of the EBU, which entails that the broadcaster must be a public one. Well, the unfortunate thing is that BTRC is the only public broadcaster in the country.

Ant
Ant
4 months ago

EBU should not give Lukashenko’s regime a platform to promote itself. Especially not this year. I can only wish endurance to our Belarusian sisters and brothers. Our hearts are with you. Eurovision is definitely not a priority but, hopefully, we’ll see you back very soon.

Donkey
Donkey
4 months ago

Although it would be sad, just everything about Belarus in recent years in the contest has been corrupt, and if there is no other way to fix this, this would be the best option unfortunately.

Nicky
Nicky
4 months ago

but then we lose yet another country, all bc of political correctness in the current world

Cameron
Cameron
4 months ago

Is there any other broadcaster that could take over? Otherwise it’s bye Belarus

Kalla
Kalla
4 months ago
Reply to  Cameron

Exactly what I was thinking, surely there must be one non state run broadcaster. I guess they wouldn’t have the funds for the ebu though. I’m sure some countries would happily contribute for Belarus to take part in a stand against the government. Probably would be to complicated to organise and agree with the ebu I imagine.