Maksym Tkachuk has been disqualified from the Ukrainian national selection for Junior Eurovision 2020.
Reports from Ukrainian media say that national broadcaster UA:PBC has removed 12-year-old Maksym Tkachuk from its lineup of contestants vying for the right to represent Ukraine at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2020.
Ukrainian news site Vesti published a letter that Tkachuk’s legal guardian, his grandmother Larisa Vladimirovna, reportedly received from UA:PBC board member Yaroslav Lodygin, stating that Tkachuk violated the rules of the national selection process. The rule in question, the fourth clause of paragraph 3.4, states that participants must agree to: “…not carry out concert activities, performances, participation in any public and/or private events organized by state bodies, institutions, economic entities, etc., of the aggressor country or on territory of the aggressor country, in the Autonomous Repubic of Crimea and/or in the occupied territory of Ukraine after 15 March 2014, and to not plan or announce such performances both in the period before and during the selection, and in the period after Vidbir to the final date of the International Competiton.”
The “aggressor country” in this case is Russia, with whom Ukraine has had significant geopolitical conflicts in recent years, particularly the Russian annexation of Crimea.
Tkachuk’s disqualification came after it was revealed that he won the Stars of the Albion performing arts competition in London earlier this year. According to an a statement from his grandmother in the news site Strana, Tkachuk was disqualified because he performed the Soviet song “Smuglyanka” at Stars of the Albion. Strana had previously reported that nationalists and representatives of the Svoboda political party “harassed” Tkachuk in local media for his choice of song, even accusing the Stars of the Albion contest of being propaganda from the Kremlin.
Zurab Alasania, CEO of UA:PBC, posted on Facebook clarifying UA:PBC’s stance in excluding Tkachuk after having already been selected as a finalist. He stated that Tkachuk’s grandmother did not disclose Tkachuk’s participation at Stars of the Albion on the application form. According to Alasania, agencies of the Russian foreign affairs ministry were part of the organization behind Stars of the Albion. Thus, Tkachuk’s performance violated the Ukrainian selection’s rules. Alasania also decried the pro-Russian media reports on Tkachuk’s disqualification, pointing out the “insolence and manipulation” of using Tkachuk’s status as an orphan and the patriotic message of “Smuglyanka” to drum up outrage. He briefly compared Tkachuk’s situation with that of Maruv, whom UA:PBC prevented from participating in the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 because of her refusal to stop holding concerts in Russia.
Applications for Ukraine’s Junior Eurovision selection remain open until August 25. A total of 11 artists will be chosen for the final between August 26 and 27. The finalists will include eight with original songs, two with cover songs and the finalist whose video received the most likes. 11 acts have been revealed so far:
- Karyna Zayets – Zhyva
- Mariya Danilova – Syayvo
- Mariya Tkachuk – Vstyhnemo Vse!
- Yuliya Karimi – People
- Daniyela Shapochnikova – Tvoye Maybutnye
- Kristina Osychenko – Teche Voda
- Sofiya Adamiv – Zatamuyu Podykh
- Alisa Botvintseva – Ukraintsi (cover version)
- Alina Gyrych – Ahov
- Polina Babiy – SuperBit
- Lidia Okilko – Svitanok
UA:PBC will publish the final line-up from August 28 to September 4. The finalists with original songs will record final version of their songs, while the finalists without original songs will receive songs and record them.
Voting will then take place between September 5 and 8. A combination of online voting and a professional jury will decide which finalist will represent Ukraine in Warsaw. The results will be announced no later than September 12.
Ukraine debuted in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2006 and has competed in the contest ever since. To date Ukraine has only won the competition once. In 2012 Anastasiya Petryk won in Amsterdam with the song “Nebo”, she scored 138 points including eight sets of 12 points. Ukraine has hosted the contest twice, the first time being in 2009 and the second being in 2013 following their victory in Amsterdam.