Controversy over whether or not Zelenskyy will intervene at Eurovision

Controversy over whether or not Zelenskyy will intervene at Eurovision Song Contest – Teller Report

Before the Eurovision Song Contest descended into extravagance and glitz, on Friday it was embroiled in one of the controversies that have shaped its history, over the refusal of Volodymyr Zelenskyy to speak in Saturday’s final.

Due to the Russian invasion, Ukraine was unable to organize the competition they won last year and delegated the organization to the United Kingdom, which took second place.

But if the kitsch and pop show in Liverpool (north-west England) promises to be very Ukrainian, it is out of the question to have the country’s president speak there via video message, as he has done at many events, the organizers decided on Thursday evening.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the broadcasters’ organization that oversees the competition, said it had rejected their request on the grounds of “the non-political nature of the event: “This policy prohibits political or similar statements during the competition,” said the EBU in a statement.

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

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

Downing Street pointed out that last year’s Eurovision Song Contest organizers themselves decided to exclude Russia from the competition after invading Ukraine.

Russia is also banned this year as British parliamentarians during the event raised concerns about possible cyberattacks by pro-Russian hackers like those they were blamed for last year.

Ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has frequently visited Ukraine since his departure from Downing Street, also criticized the EBU’s decision: “The only reason why the competition is not taking place in Ukraine is because of Putin’s illegal war.”

Claire McColgan, the city’s cultural director, told Times Radio she thought it was “fantastic” to hear Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

In an interview with AFP, Culture Minister Stuart Andrew expressed his “regret” but said he hoped that during the final “people see (…) that it’s recognized that (the competition) should have been held in Ukraine “.

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

In an interview with the BBC this week, Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that despite his “great respect” for Britain, he would have preferred to host this year’s competition in a country bordering Ukraine.

The EBU argued that even without a message from Volodymyr Zelenskyy during Saturday night’s final, the competition is planning a strong tribute to Ukraine, with the presence of 11 Ukrainian artists on stage, including the Kalush Orchestra, last year’s winner.

Video clips aired in the evening show different locations in the country and the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag should be floating in space en masse.

“It’s definitely not a British show. It takes place in the United Kingdom, but we stand with Ukraine,” said Tim Routledge, who lights up the competition for the Metro newspaper.

26 countries will take part in the final of this 67th edition of the competition, including Ukraine and the five main sponsors of the competition (Germany, Spain, France, Italy, United Kingdom), who are automatically qualified.

On Thursday evening, the last ten countries secured their ticket for the final in the second semi-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 among the “top 5” favorites behind Sweden, Finland and Ukraine. Belgium, Israel and Spain are also among the favourites.