Ukraine said on Wednesday it had barred Russia’s entry for the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest from entering the country, prompting a swift rebuke from Moscow, which called the decision a “cynical and inhuman act.” Ukraine’s state security service (SBU) said Yulia Samoylova, a wheelchair-bound 27-year-old singer, had violated Ukrainian law by visiting Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, and would not be allowed to enter the country for three years.
Relations between Ukraine and Russia soured following the annexation and the outbreak of a war between Kiev and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 10,000 people.
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Russian foreign ministry official Grigory Karasin, speaking to Interfax news agency, called the decision to bar Samoylova “another outrageous, cynical and inhuman act by the Kiev authorities.” Echoing previous Russian calls to boycott the event, Yelena Drapenko, First Deputy chairman of the Duma’s Culture Committee, told RIA news agency: “We should not participate at all in this competition.
What they’ve done is a dirty act.” The Kremlin has denied Samoylova was picked to represent Russia in order to provoke Ukraine politically and says that the choice of singer was made independently by state-run broadcaster Channel One, which broadcasts Eurovision in Russia.
Hostilities spilled over into the glitzy Eurovision show after Ukrainian contestant Jamala unexpectedly won the contest last year with an entry that Russia called politicized.
Ukraine, which won the right to stage the 62nd Eurovision event after Jamala’s victory, has previously threatened to deny entry to certain Russian singers it deemed anti-Ukrainian.
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Samoylova has visited Crimea since the peninsula was seized by Russia, which is illegal according to Ukrainian law unless it is done with Kiev’s permission.
“The Security Service of Ukraine has banned the citizen of the Russian Federation Yulia Samoylova from entering the country for a period of three years,” SBU spokeswoman Olena Gitlianska wrote on Facebook.
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