Controversy around an intervention or not of Zelensky at Eurovision

Controversy around an intervention or not of Zelensky at Eurovision

Before giving way to extravagance and glitter, Eurovision found itself caught on Friday in one of those controversies that have marked its history, due to the refusal of Volodymyr Zelensky who wanted to speak during the final on Saturday.

Unable to organize the competition it won last year, because of the Russian invasion, Ukraine delegated the organization to the United Kingdom, which came second.

But if the kitsch and pop show in Liverpool (north-west of England) promises to be very Ukrainian, there is no question of letting the president of the country express himself there by video message as he has done in many events, the organizers decided on Thursday evening.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), organization of broadcasters which oversees the competition, explained that it rejected its request in the name of “the non-political nature of the event”: “This principle prohibits political or similar statements during the competition” , the EBU said in a statement.

“Mr. Zelensky’s request to address the public at the Eurovision Song Contest, although made with laudable intentions, regretfully cannot be granted as it would break the rules of the event,” it added. EBU.

“The values ​​and freedoms for which President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people are fighting in Ukraine are not political, but fundamental,” said a spokesman for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, saying the government was “disappointed” by the decision. .

Downing Street noted that Eurovision organizers themselves last year decided to exclude Russia from the contest after the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia is also banned this year, as British parliamentarians raised concerns about possible cyberattacks by pro-Russian hackers during the event, such as those attributed to them last year.

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Ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has visited Ukraine often, including since leaving Downing Street, also criticized the EBU’s decision: “The only reason the competition is not being held in Ukraine, it’s Putin’s illegal war”.

Claire McColgan, director of culture for the City of Liverpool, told Times Radio she would have found it “fantastic” to hear Volodymyr Zelensky.

In an interview with AFP, Culture Secretary Stuart Andrew expressed “regret” but said he hoped that during the final, “people see (…) that there is recognition that (the competition) should have taken place in Ukraine”.

“There’s a lot going on in the city to make people feel like they’re celebrating alongside our friends in Ukraine,” he added.

In an interview with the BBC this week, Volodymyr Zelensky said that despite having ‘great respect’ for the UK, he would have preferred the competition to be hosted by a country sharing a border with Ukraine this year. .

The EBU argued that even without a message from Volodymyr Zelensky, the competition plans a strong tribute to Ukraine during the final on Saturday evening, with the presence of eleven Ukrainian artists on stage, including Kalush Orchestra, the winner of the year last.

Video clips broadcast during the evening will show different places in the country and the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag should float en masse in the room.

“It’s definitely not a British show. It takes place in the United Kingdom, but we stand alongside Ukraine, ”also defended Tim Routledge, responsible for the lights of the competition in the newspaper Metro.

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The final of this 67th edition of the competition will see 26 countries compete, including Ukraine and the five main financial contributors to the competition (Germany, Spain, France, Italy, United Kingdom), automatically qualified.

Thursday evening, during the second semi-final, ten last countries won their ticket for the final, including Belgium, Poland and Australia.

France, which has not won the competition since Marie Myriam in 1977, is represented by Quebecer La Zarra with “Evidemment”.

Bookmakers rank it in the “top 5” favorites behind Sweden, Finland, Ukraine. Belgium, Israel and Spain are also cited among the favourites.



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