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UKRAINE

Eurovision bans Russia from song contest over invasion of Ukraine

Russian acts will not be allowed to compete in this year's Eurovision Song Contest, the European Broadcasting Union has announced.

Eurovision bans Russia from song contest over invasion of Ukraine

The EBU, which broadcasts the event, stated on Friday that Russia’s inclusion in this year’s song contest “would bring the competition into disrepute”.

The broadcaster’s board made the decision to ban Russia from the competition “in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine” and after reviewing the rules and values of the event.

Russia’s exclusion from the music show comes after its prime minister Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale attack on Ukraine on Thursday.

Since then, EU leaders have imposed sanctions against Russia, with further rounds expected to follow, while major sporting events have also been cancelled in the country.

READ ALSO: OPINION: This is Russia’s war, but we Europeans need to learn fast from our mistakes

In explaining their decision, organisers said Eurovision “promotes international exchange and understanding, brings audiences together, celebrates diversity through music and unites Europe on one stage”.

Russia’s removal from the event marked a U-turn for members of the board, who had previously remained impartial on the matter due to the apolitical nature of Eurovision.

Just one day before, the EBU said that the contest was a “non-political cultural event” and that they were intending to host participants from Russia, but their initial statement seems to have since been removed from its site.

Italy’s Maneskin, the 2021 winners, performs during the final of the 65th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021, at the Ahoy convention centre in Rotterdam, on May 22, 2021. (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

However, as pressure mounted from other broadcasters, the EBU responded with the ban on Russian entries.

Finland’s public broadcaster Yle said on Friday that it was “pleading” with the EBU not to allow Russia to participate.

“Yle will not send a participant to the Eurovision Song Contest if Russia can participate in the competition,” it said in a statement.

Other public broadcasters in Ukraine, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Norway also called on the EBU to ban Russia from the event.

The chairman of Ukraine’s public broadcaster Suspilne, Mykola Chernotytsky, said in an open letter to the EBU that “Russia’s participation as an aggressor and violator of international law in this year’s Eurovision undermines the very idea of the competition.”

This year marks the 66th edition of Eurovision and is due to take place in Turin, Italy, after Italian rock band Måneskin won the singing competition last year.

READ ALSO: Turin chosen to host Eurovision Song Contest in 2022

The last time Russia took the title was in in 2008 with Dima Bilan singing ‘Believe’, although it has recently been on of Eurovision’s best performing acts, placing in the top five over the past ten years.

Crimean Tatar singer Susana Jamaladinova known as Jamala won Eurovision for Ukraine in 2016. (Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV / AFP)
 

Russia was favourite to win in 2016, but Crimean Tatar singer Susana Jamaladinova of Ukraine, known as Jamala, snatched the title in a surprise victory with her song about Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s deportation of hundreds of thousands of this group of people.

For 2022’s event, Ukraine’s entry is hip-hop trio Kalush Orchestra, whose song ‘Stefania’ marks a tribute to the band members’ mothers.

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UKRAINE

Germany authorises manufacturers to send Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine

Germany said it had issued authorisation on Friday for Leopard 1 tanks to be sent to Ukraine, in a further boost for Kyiv as it seeks heavier weapons to counter Moscow's forces.

Germany authorises manufacturers to send Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine

Berlin has already said it will provide Ukraine with 14 Leopard 2s from its military stocks, but manufacturers also want to send tanks they have in storage.

“I can confirm… that an export licence has been issued,” government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit told a regular press briefing when asked about Leopard 1s.

He declined to give further information, saying more details would likely emerge in the coming days and weeks.

First entering service in the 1960s, the Leopard 1 is the forerunner of the more advanced Leopard 2, which is widely used by armies across Europe.

READ ALSO: Germany gives greenlight for Leopard tank deliveries to Ukraine

German magazine Der Spiegel reported that it concerned 29 Leopard 1s, which were in storage at a military manufacturer.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper meanwhile reported that two manufacturers want to refurbish dozens of Leopard 1s to send them to Ukraine, although they have faced problems in procuring ammunition.

Last month, Berlin finally agreed to sending the powerful German-made Leopards to Ukraine, following weeks of sustained pressure from Kyiv and its European allies.

Under German law, Berlin has to approve the export of the tanks, even in cases when other countries who bought them want to re-export them.

While scores of nations have pledged military hardware for Ukraine in recent weeks, Kyiv has been clamouring for the more sophisticated Leopards, seen as key to punching through enemy lines.

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