Oleksandr Kharebin the former Executive Producer of the Eurovision Song Contest 2017 has criticised the EBU for their handling of Yulia Samoilova’s ban.
Mr Khrebin who was one of 22 individuals to resign at the start of February has spoken to DW about the EBU’s handling of the banning of Yulia Samoilova. Mr Kharebin has been outspoken in his criticism of the way in which the EBU is demanding that Ukraine change their own national laws to ensure that a participant who has been deemed by the SBU as in breach of Ukrainian law from attending. The Executive Producer is clear in stating that within the documents for hosting the contest signed by both parties, there is no clause regarding sanctions against an EBU member for not allowing a contestant to compete.
Mr Kharebin stated:
There is no legal basis to punish Ukraine for non-admission of some of the participants After all, Ukraine is guided solely by their national interests, the EBU – is a commercial company incorporated in Switzerland.. . it is strange that there remind us of the commercial agreements that should prevent Ukraine to carry out their public functions.
The former Executive Producer goes on to explain that the Song Contest is a purely commercial project. He adds that:
The Russian market is extremely important for the EBU because it is a membership fee and a multi-million audience, and now Russia is actually blackmailing the European Broadcasting Union, threatening to withdraw from it, and that is why EBU is doing the same with Ukraine, so sharply demanding allowance of the Russian participant.
Mr Kharebin believes that the Russian broadcaster is putting pressure onto the EBU. According to Ukrainian Experts there is a general belief that Russia may also be putting pressure on surrounding countries to also withdraw from the competition this May should Yulia Samoilova not be allowed to perform in Kyiv, Ukraine. Mr Kharebin ends by saying:
As of March 30, the information that someone does not come, it was not, but do not rule out that some countries under pressure from Russia to do so.
Yulia Samoilova was banned over a week ago from entering Ukraine for a period of three years by the Ukrainian Security Services. Yulia was found to have entered Crimea by a non-Ukrainian border post, breaching Ukrainian law. Channel One has already turned down an offer by the EBU to have Yulia perform remotely in Moscow, the broadcaster however would still have breached Ukrainian broadcasting law.