Eurovision organisers have threatened to ban Ukraine, this year’s host country, from future competitions if it maintains its refusal to let a Russian singer enter its territory to take part in the song contest.
Ukraine has barred the Russian contestant, Yuliya Samoilova, from entering the country for three years on the grounds that the 27-year-old “illegally” entered Russian-annexed Crimea to perform at a concert in 2015.
Ukraine bitterly contests Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, which it considers part of its territory.
The head of the European Broadcasting Union, Ingrid Deltenre, has informed Ukraine that it was “unacceptable” to ban Ms Samoilova, who has been confined to a wheelchair since childhood as a result of a reaction to a vaccine.
Ukraine’s public broadcaster, UAPBC, “might be excluded from future events,” she said in a letter to Ukraine’s prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman.
"We are increasingly frustrated, in fact angry, that this year's competition is being used as a tool in the ongoing confrontation between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.”
A suggestion by Eurovision that Ms Samoilova could take part via a satellite link was turned down by Russia’s Channel One.
“We find the offer of remote participation odd and refuse it, for it is going absolutely against the very essence of the event,” the Russian state broadcaster said.
Ms Deltenre urged Ukraine to lift its refusal to allow Ms Samoilova to enter its territory, saying it “would certainly have a very big negative impact on Ukraine's international reputation as a modern, democratic European nation.”
The Eurovision song contest is to be held in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on May 13.