Russia will boycott this year’s Eurovision song contest over an argument with Ukraine

Sergey Lazarev Russia EurovisionTT News Agency/Maja Suslin/via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s state broadcaster has said it will boycott this year’s Eurovision song contest after the host country, Ukraine, said it would bar entry to the Russian contestant and Moscow rejected two possible compromises suggested by organizers.

Ukraine said Russian singer Yulia Samoylova could not travel to Kiev for the competition because she had performed in Crimea after the region was annexed by Russia.

Moscow accused Ukraine of discriminating against Samoylova and of breaching the contest’s rules.

Russia’s Channel One, the state broadcaster that transmits the contest to large Russian audiences, said organizers had offered the option of sending a different contestant or of having Samoylova perform via video link from Moscow.

“In our view this represents discrimination against the Russian entry, and of course our team will not under any circumstances agree to such terms,” said Yuri Aksyuta, the station’s chief producer for musical and entertainment programs.

“Naturally, we are not taking part in the Eurovision 2017 competition under the terms that are being offered to us, and we will not broadcast it either,” he said.

“The absence of a Russian participant, in my view, is a very serious blow to the reputation of the contest itself, and for Russian viewers it is also another reason not to pay attention to the contest.”

(Reporting by Christian Lowe; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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