Update on February 25: The European Broadcasting Union announced that Russia is banned from participating in the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest. The EBU said including Russia would “bring the competition into disrepute.”
The official statement reads: “The Executive Board of the EBU made the decision following a recommendation earlier today by the Eurovision Song Contest’s governing body, the Reference Group, based on the rules of the event and the values of the EBU. The Reference Group recommendation was also supported by the EBU’s Television Committee.
“The decision reflects concern that, in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s Contest would bring the competition into disrepute.
“The EBU is an apolitical member organization of broadcasters committed to upholding the values of public service. We remain dedicated to protecting the values of a cultural competition which promotes international exchange and understandings, brings audiences together, celebratres diversity through music, and unites Europe on one stage.”
— Eurovision Song Contest (@Eurovision) February 25, 2022
February 24: The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) confirmed that the 66th Eurovision Song Contest will allow Russia to compete.
The competition will be hosted in Turin, Italy, in May 2022, with musical artists from across Europe, Israel, and Australia performing. Italian rock group Maneskin previously won the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest in a vote decided by both judges and the public.
Ukraine’s national broadcaster UA:PBC chair Mykola Chernotytsky wrote an open letter addressed to EBU president Delphine Ernotte Cunci. UA:PBC urged the EBU to ban Russia from both the Eurovision Song Contest and EBU as a whole.
“We would like to emphasize that the Eurovision Song Contest was created after the Second World War to unite Europe,” Chernotytsky wrote, as reported by Variety. “In view of this, Russia’s participation as an aggressor and violator of international law in this year’s Eurovision undermines the very idea of the competition.”
Russia officially invaded Ukraine on February 23.
Chernotytsky continued, “Please note that Russia’s participation in this year’s competition is provided by the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company, which is an instrument of the Kremlin’s power in the information war against Ukraine and constantly violates journalistic standards underlying public broadcasting. Russia’s exclusion from this large-scale song event will be a powerful response by the international community of public broadcasters to the unacceptable aggressive and illegal actions of the Russian Federation and support for the country’s state broadcasters’ hostile policy of aggression.”
The EBU, which is headquartered in Switzerland, responded to Chernotytsky, saying in a joint statement, “The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political cultural event which unites nations and celebrates diversity through music. The EBU’s public broadcaster members in both Russia and Ukraine have committed to participating in this year’s event in Turin and we are currently planning to welcome artists from both countries to perform in May.”
While Russia is still invited to the Eurovision Song Contest, EBU noted, “We of course will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
In a separate statement, the EBU also said: “All media broadcasters and the EBU as a union are focused on doing our job for the public in difficult circumstances and will not hesitate to condemn any infringements or violations of press freedom. It is vital for journalists to be allowed to continue to operate both freely and safely, and report without hindrance. Supporting media freedom must be prioritized, not despite these challenging circumstances, but because of them.”