KIEV – The European Broadcasting Union received official notice from the National Public Television of Ukraine (NOTU) that they will not be participating in the Eurovision contest this year.
This happened as a consequence of all three of the winners of Ukraine’s national contest (1st, 2nd, and 3rd place) unanimously refused to represent Ukraine after learning of Ukraine’s ‘career ending’ and ‘highly politicized’ terms. Those winners were Maruv, Freedom-jazz in second, and Kazka Group in third.
First place winner Anna Korsun, known professionally as Maruv (alternatively, ‘MARUV’), is a Ukrainian singer, composer, poet and producer. She has officially rejected the offer on the basis of ‘not wanting to be a political tool’.
At issue is a self-defeating law passed by the U.S coup-installed Rada of Ukraine, which prohibits Ukrainian performers (actors, singers, artists, etc.) who in anyway are the recipient of grants or public moneys from Ukraine, to perform in the Russian Federation.
This creates an impossible deal for the vast majority of Ukrainian artists who by and large perform in the Russian language, which is spoken by nearly all Ukrainians, and is still the de facto language spoken in the largest Ukrainian cities, Kiev and Odessa. Recent language laws by the same ultra-nationalist Ukrainian Rada have created ‘Ukrainian language only’ laws within the public sphere, but private businesses continue to operate using the Russian ‘lingua franca’.
Popular Ukrainian performers are also often popular in Russia – after all, the present ‘conflict’ between Ukraine and Russia is highly politicized, but does not reflect the last century of heavily fraternal relations between these peoples, whom many experts and citizens on both sides alike in fact view as a single people.
It would be ‘career suicide’ for an otherwise popular Ukrainian performer to agree to anything that would bar them from performing in Russia.
Furthermore, it was believed by many in the industry, that Ukraine’s entry into the Eurovision contest would resemble last year’s – a heavily politicized performance which violated Eurovisions own rules against performances that politicize cultural and historical matters in light of contemporary challenges and conflicts. Russia, at the time, made an official complaint about Ukraine’s entry last year, a revisionist approach to the history of Ukrainian Tatars which effectively demonized the USSR’s WWII era provisions, and were seen as de facto legitimization of the Nazi German war effort, widely lauded in contemporary Ukrainian ruling parties in parliament.
Thus, any Ukrainian contestant in the upcoming Eurovision Contest would not only be expected not to ever perform in Russia – a term that at least one preliminary winner considered a form of slavery or bondage – but furthermore, the content of their song would be expected to take on an anti-Russian message.
The European Broadcasting Union regretted the decision of the Ukrainian state, saying officially on their website and twitter:
“We sadly confirm that the National Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine informed the European Broadcasting Union that after discussions, they made a decision not to participate in the Eurovision song contest,”
Earlier, the NOTU stated that “in the current situation, following the law on public broadcasting, as well as in conditions of excessive politicization during the national selection, it was decided to refuse to participate in the international song contest.”
Interestingly, the ‘excessive politicization’ is referenced by the NOTU statement itself, but in standard Orwellian form, it distorts the fact that the ‘excessive politicization’ is their own.
In detail, the NOTU explained:
“The winner of the national selection for this year’s Eurovision was the singer MARUV, which the Public Broadcaster, as it does this annually, offered to conclude an agreement to represent Ukraine at the song contest. However, after negotiations, MARUV refused to sign the agreement.
The alternative way to determine the representative from Ukraine to Eurovision-2019 rules is to recognize his direct appointment as a broadcaster. That is, the Public Broadcasting Company could elect any performer from among the participants in the National Selection.
However, from such an alternative, the Public Broadcaster refuses, because he respects the choice of the audience in the National Selection. Therefore, in the situation of non-signing of the agreement on participation in the Eurovision with the winner of the TV and radio company turns to the finalists who took the second and third place by the results of the National Selection.
Freedom Jazz and Kazka also refused to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest-2019.
The song contest is an opportunity for every country to represent itself in the international arena, and for each performer to act as the ambassador of their country and win supporters around the world.
But the National Selection-2019 revealed and attracted the attention of our society to the systemic problem of the music industry in Ukraine: the connections of artists from the show business in the territory of the aggressor state, which are still very close at the 5th year of the military conflict. For a part of society, this fact is acceptable, in the other part it causes indignation and rejection.”
The Government of Ukraine appealed to the State Committee for Television and Radio Broadcasting to improve the conditions for the selection of a representative of Ukraine to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest. In addition, it was proposed to appeal to the Verkhovna Rada with a request to consider a bill on the peculiarities of the touring activities of Ukrainian performers in Russia.
On February 23rd in the national selection of “Eurovision” the singer MARUV won. But she could not agree with the NOTU, calling the proposed terms of the contract “indentured servitude”. Then the group Freedom-jazz, which took the second place in the national selection, also refused to participate. They then also offered third place winner, the Kazka group, but they also refused.