Eurovision 2018: Reference Group discusses consequences for Russia and Ukraine

During the next meeting of the Reference Group for the Eurovision Song Contest on the 12th of June, the members of the Reference Group will discuss the consequences for Russia and Ukraine. They will talk about the imposed entry ban for the selected Russian artist Julia Samoylova

, after which the Russian state television withdrew its ESC participation.

Frank-Dieter Freiling, president of the Reference Group, gave an interview to the official Eurovision website in Germany about the issue. You can read the most important passage here, in which he states that consequences for both nations will be discussed on June 12th:

Interview with Frank-Dieter Freiling

As a strong moment, to damage the just past ESC from the image, there was the withdrawal of Russia. Would not Ukraine have acted more generously to allow the singer Julia Samoylova to enter Kiev?

Freiling: There was a propaganda campaign from both sides – and the Ukrainian side, especially the government and its security authorities, has managed to maneuver into a media trap of the Russian side. In the end, the Ukrainian broadcaster had to decide: against its own population or against international partners. In the Ukrainian population the non-assignment of a visa to the Russian candidate was also popular.

The EBU, including the ESC Reference Group, could not shake it?

Freiling: We did this – and we also threatened sanctions. But the hosting broadcaster had in the end no way to get past the political institutions – president and security authorities.

But was not the agreement concluded by the EBU with the Ukrainian ESC leaders soon after Jamala’s victory in Stockholm, that all delegations had to be given free escort?

Freiling: Well, that was in the contracts, so it is always – artists, journalists, fans must enter. But the laws of Ukraine were finally opposed.

They already spoke in front of the ESC in Kiev, that both countries or the ESC stations of Ukraine and Russia are punished…

Freiling: …we do not punish transmitters, but their misconduct. And this will also be the case here.

However, ESC officials are happy to announce penalties for misconduct, but then almost nothing follows. There were cases in Spain, there was and is the political conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Freiling: … and in each case very high fines were imposed. The Ukrainian ESC host is clearly breaking the contracts, and we will discuss this at the next meeting of the Reference Group on June 12th.

Will Ukraine and Russia have to stay away from the ESC?

Freiling: All that is the result of the deliberations, I can tell you after our meeting, but these incidents will not be without consequences.

While Ukraine is a huge country, it hardly seemed capable of organizing an ESC without conflict. Would the EBU not have to interfere more strongly in the preparations for a Eurovision Festival?

Freiling: First of all, it was an extraordinary situation that the Ukrainian host was a state. Usually we have to do, not with states, but with transmitters, on the other side of the official gestures at the opening of an ESC. That was different in the Ukraine, and the ESC is not doing well. But you are right, yes, this will be a consequence of this ESC: that the EBU will be more involved in preparing an ESC.