Russia puts former Ukrainian winner of Eurovision Song Contest on wanted list

Susana Jamaladinova uses the stage name Jamala  (AP)
Susana Jamaladinova uses the stage name Jamala (AP)

Russia has placed a Ukrainian singer who won the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest on its wanted list.

Singer Susana Jamaladinova - stage name Jamala - is being sought for violating a criminal law, according to an interior ministry database listing.

The independent news site Mediazona, which covers opposition and human rights issues, said Jamaladinova was charged under a law adopted last year that bans spreading so-called fake information about the Russian military and the ongoing fighting in Ukraine.

Ms Jamaladinova, 40, is of Crimean Tatar descent. She won the 2016 Eurovision contest with the song 1944, a title that refers to the year the Soviet Union deported Crimean Tatars en masse.

Her winning performance came almost exactly two years after Russia annexed Crimea, a move widely denounced as illegal.

Russia protested against 1944 being allowed in the competition, saying it violated rules against political speech in Eurovision.

But the song made no specific criticism of Russia or the Soviet Union, although it drew such implications, opening with the lyrics: "When strangers are coming, they come to your house, they kill you all and say 'We're not guilty."'

Ms Jamaladinova, who has been vocal about the Russian occupation of Crimea in the past, fled her home with her children in February, when Russia invaded Ukraine, and went to Istanbul where her sister lives.

At the time, Ms Jamaladinova said Russia had been targeting her since her participation in Eurovision.

She has since become a Ukrainian cultural ambassador, performing at the Concert for Ukraine in Birmingham.

The musician is currently on a fund-and awareness-raising tour in Australia.