Back in June, Belarus’ Eurovision broadcaster BTRC was expelled from the European Broadcasting Union. That means the Minsk-based station will no longer be eligible to access a number of EBU services, including entry to the Eurovision Song Contest and Junior Eurovision. This effectively ruled out a Belarusian participation at Eurovision 2022 in Italy.

Now the general director of BTRC — Ivan Eismont — has clarified that the suspension is currently set to last for three years. Speaking to SB.by, he said that the ban runs for three years, starting on July 1, 2021. That means BTRC cannot return as a full member of the EBU until July 1, 2024 unless the EBU reviews the suspension and decides to shorten it.

Belarus suspended from the European Broadcasting Union

As reported by independent Belarusian radio station Euroradio, on Wednesday 30 June, the EBU held a meeting to discuss BTRC’s future in the union.

There the EBU decided that from Thursday 1 July, BTRC would no longer be able to access EBU services. These services include the exchange of news and music content, the right to broadcast EBU sporting and music events, legal and technical research expertise and interest protection services.

This also includes Belarus’s right to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest and the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, among other things. For a country to be allowed to compete in Eurovision, it must be represented by a broadcaster with EBU membership. With BTRC’s exit, Belarus has no member stations represented in the EBU.

To date, Belarus is one of only two countries to have competed in every edition of Junior Eurovision since its founding in 2003.

This is the first time a country has been unable to compete in Eurovision due to being expelled from the EBU.

Why did the EBU expel Belarus’ BTRC?

BTRC’s expulsion from the EBU, while sudden, is not unexpected.

In May 2021, the EBU’s Executive Board suspended BTRC from the union following the arrest of opposition activist Roman Protasevich and the silencing of Belarus’ largest independent media portal.

In their original statement, the EBU wrote:

“The EBU has been closely monitoring the suppression of media freedom in Belarus and have consistently called on BTRC, as a Member of the EBU, to uphold our core values of freedom of expression, independence and accountability.

Since the disputed elections last summer, we have been campaigning for the protection of independent journalism and freedom of expression in the country. We have publicly supported journalists at BTRC who have been protesting against government interference. We have also been monitoring BTRC’s coverage and have communicated our concerns to their management.

In recent weeks, we have been particularly alarmed by the broadcast of interviews apparently obtained under duress.

We have also monitored other BTRC broadcasts on this issue which have raised other serious and quite exceptional concerns.

In light of these exceptional developments, the Executive Board has no alternative other than to propose the suspension of BTRC’s membership of the EBU.”

The original proposed suspension allowed the government-linked broadcaster two weeks to respond. While they did not do so publicly, it is not known if they responded privately to the EBU.

The broadcaster was also forced to withdraw from the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 in Rotterdam after the EBU declared Galasy ZMesta’s entry “Ya nauchu tebya” to be in breach of Eurovision rules and going against the apolitical nature of the song contest. The group’s subsequent entry “Pesnyu pro zaytsa” also contained pro-government messaging, which ultimately led to the country’s disqualification from the 2021 contest.

While this incident is not listed as an official reason for BTRC’s suspension and later expulsion, it is reflective of many of the issues listed above in the EBU’s original statement.

Read more Belarus Eurovision 2021 news here

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Bird Lover
Bird Lover
1 month ago

Why is the EBU so anti belarus? countries have sang about their political situations forever. ukraine 2016? israel 2007? armenia 2010?2015?

till 2024?

Una
Una
1 month ago

Love to Belarus and its good people.

I kind of want to politely *object* to the use of the picture with ZENA. Why use her image to illustrate the subject matter, her participation in Eurovision aside. Thank you.

azaad
azaad
1 month ago
Reply to  Una

She was their most recent representative that’s why. It’s why articles about Andorra tend to feature Susy in a photo.

Sot
Sot
1 month ago

Waiiiiit, I thought they said in April that they would be suspended FOREVER! Either there was bribery going on or they just changed their minds…? #BringBackJonOlaSand

GojoSatoru
GojoSatoru
1 month ago
Reply to  Sot

Which day in April was it? If it was April 1st then it a huge oof moment.

Joe
Joe
1 month ago
Reply to  GojoSatoru

Nah, it happened like right after the contest so late May/early June.

Sot
Sot
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe

Oh, yeah maybe I just messed up with the dates

Aeria
Aeria
1 month ago

This is one of those things where I’d love to take a peek 3 years in the future and see how it turned out. Guess we’ll have to wait a bit more than a thousand days to really know though. That suspension is probably not gonna be lifted anytime soon

Joe
Joe
1 month ago

If it’s a very different Belarus by 2024, sure, welcome them back. But otherwise, no. Get out and stay out.

Joe
Joe
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe

On the subject of Junior Eurovision: sadly, as I kinda expected, Australia aren’t going to participate ‘cuz of the travel restrictions (the EBU’s made it clear that live-on-tape performances could work, but considering how miserably that turned out for Australia this year, I think they’d rather sit it out than not be part of the experience. Plus, even if they’re tuning in via satellite for the voting like this year, the time difference would be bonkers, and it’d be cruel to make a kid stay up that late). No word yet from Armenia either. If worse comes to very worst… Read more »

Joe
Joe
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe

So if you have sixteen countries, you can still have a pretty clear-cut top ten: no voting for yourself or four other countries. That seems like enough of a buffer. It was better still when we were getting 19 or 20 countries, but that ain’t happening until COVID’s blown over, most likely. I imagine Australia will definitely come back once that’s no longer an issue, possibly Italy as well (then again, Sweden also said they were just taking a break to focus on organizing the 2016 contest, but like the father going out for a pack of cigarettes, they haven’t… Read more »

Sot
Sot
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe

I’m pretty sure BTRC will be long gone if Belarussians get what they deserve (democracy)

Darren
Darren
1 month ago

To be honest, I can’t see them coming back while the Lukashenko regime is still in power.
I suspect if he is, the suspension will be upheld for another 3 years and if they decide to let them back in, they probably will send some pro-Lukashenko political garbage song anyway and just get banned again.
I think it’s farewell Belarus until things change in the country.

just an esc fan
just an esc fan
1 month ago

tbf there’s a high chance that this suspension will be renewed till lukashenko is way too old to rule the country