For the most part Eurovision is a celebration of a range of European identities, a chance for nations to express and showcase their national individuality and prowess. On a whole this is about celebrating the music and culture of these nations and usually sees widespread generic messages evoking peace, love and tolerance. Eurovision rules state that:
‘The lyrics and/or performance of the songs shall not bring the Shows, the ESC [Eurovision Song Contest] as such or the EBU [European Broadcasting Union] into disrepute. No lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political or similar nature shall be permitted during the ESC.’
However there have been moments in Eurovision’s history that have flouted this rule and has seen rising tensions between countries who are at odds with come to the fore and play out through the Contest.
French-born actor Gerard Depardieu and 80 other Russian singers, actors and performers were banned from Ukrainian TV, radio and cinemas back in August 2015 as it is believed they pose a ‘threat to national security’. This week Ukrainian Minister for Culture Eugene Nyschuk confirmed that if any of those named on the list are chosen to represent Russia for the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, they will not be admitted to the country. The decision regarding the Blacklist has been reiterated following an announcement earlier this week that Kiev will be the host of the 2017 Contest.
Russia have recently, and rightfully so, been vilified at International events for their foreign policy actions in the Ukraine in the last year and a bit. They have also come under huge scrutiny for their policies at home which have encouraged savage beatings of gay Russians. Trivial as Eurovision may seem, some of these actions have had serious repercussions on the contest. For one, Ukraine have withdrawn from this year’s competition, with more pressing issues to deal with, following Russia’s invasion of the Crimea last year. Russia have also come under a lot of scrutiny from Eurovision fans for their policies at home, with fans booing Russia at every opportunity. This included when their 2014 entry, the Tomalchevy Sisters, performed at the semi final and final last year, but also when former winner Dima Bilan took to the stage at the 60th Anniversary Greatest Hits concert last month. It was interesting to see then who Russia would select as their Eurovision entry for 2015, how or if they would address these concerns. Read on to find out what we made of their 2015 entry.