Russia has chosen a singer to represent the country at the Eurovision Song Contest-2017 in Ukraine – Yulia Samoilova. She is a disabled, wheelchair-bound singer. The SBU speaker stated that they would check the information regarding Samoilova participating at the festival “World of Sport and Peace”, which was held in the Crimea on June 27, 2015 and give an unbiased official response. However, some social media users have already suggested that Russia expects that Samoilova will be banned from entering Ukraine, and have specially chosen an artist with disabilities to provoke a scandal.
Who is she?
Yulia Samoilova was born on April 7, 1989 in Ukhta (the Republic of Komi). She was a healthy child until the day her parents took her to a polio vaccination. The vaccination caused complications, and Julia had to use a wheelchair. According to her, she has loved singing since early childhood. Her first performances took place at school fairs, and then she won several regional and federal competitions. In 2008, when she studied psychology at the Modern Academy of the Humanities, she founded the TerraNova group. She finished her studies in 2010.
She became famous after participating in the third season of the TV show “Factor A” on the TV channel Russia 1 in 2013. She took 2nd place in the finals. In 2014, she performed the song “Together” at the opening ceremony of the Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi.
Why was she chosen?
It took Russia several months to choose a singer who will represent the country at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2017. Some Russian celebrities called for boycotting the contest, arguing that “a Russian singer will be given the cold shoulder in Kyiv.” Some singers immediately refused to submit their candidature for participation in the selection. As a result, Russian producers decided to send a disabled singer to a country where, in their opinion, it’s dangerous for others to go.
Samoilova herself claims that she is very happy:
“I am immensely happy that this happened in my life, because this is what I have been striving for since childhood – I was watching TV and dreaming, imagining myself on the stage. And my mother dreamed with me, in fact, she persuaded me that it would happen and it did. Of course, I’m shocked; I still cannot realize that this is happening to me. I’m happy.”
Why can she be banned from entering Ukraine?
Activists of the movement “Vidsich” (“Resistance”) shared information from Samoilova’s page in social media confirming that she had performed in the occupied Crimea. For this reason, they demand to ban her from entering Ukraine.
Yulia Samoilova did participate at the festival “World of Sport and Peace”, which was held in the Crimea on June 27, 2015. She also published a post on her page in social media, in which she, in the best traditions of Russian propaganda, accuses the US of intending to attack Russia, calls Russians and Ukrainians “one people”, etc.
The Security Service of Ukraine promised to check this information and make a balanced and unbiased decision.
Reaction to the choice of the artist
Pavlo Klimkin, Ukrainian Foreign Minister, believes that the choice of Samoilova is a provocation: “SBU is checking her (Samoilova). There is a statement. I believe that the law should be one for all. Russia has been engaged in provocations for many years. “
Ukrainian artist Antin Muharsky believes that Samoilova may be admitted to Ukraine. But we should arrange a meeting with Ukrainian veterans who were disabled after the injuries. “A hundred injured soldiers should wait for Samoilova at the airport, so that Russia should understand that such many people with disabilities that appeared as a result of the war have never been seen since the Second World War … Undoubtedly, they expect to use this for their propaganda machine later. She should be admitted to Ukraine. Let her come. We should turn her visit into our own Ukrainian PR stunt and promo. Russia is killing our people. Let us show them our people, the ATO soldiers who suffered from this war. And they should take the front-row seats.”
Yuri Butusov, Ukrainian journalist, “Censor” chief editor posted on his Facebook page: “The country that every day kills Ukrainians and conducts anti-Ukrainian propaganda decided to send its participant to the Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv. They sent the singer with disabilities to appeal to European audience’s better feeling. Though it would be much more logical to send Alexandrov military choir members – the survivors of a plane crash with their song “Polite people” about the occupation of Ukraine.
The Russian authorities deny all accusations and assure that it was an honest choice without any intentional overtones. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in this regard that “Practically everyone visited Crimea. There are no people who have not been to Crimea. This is the first thing. The second one is the fact that it is an international competition, and the host country should follow the contest rules. I would not use such words as “provocation.” This is the choice of the Russian TV channel, which sends the participant there, so we do not see anything provocative here.”
Scandal in the reality show release
The situation has become even more ambiguous after the scandal that erupted in Russia last week. Evgeny Smirnov, a young dancer with disabilities, performed at the contest in the reality show “The Moment of Glory”. The reaction of the jury members to his performance was far from correct. Renata Litvinova, a Russian director, called him an ”amputee man” and invited him to “fasten the second leg.” Vladimir Pozner, a well-known journalist, said that his performance cannot be assessed objectively.
Perhaps, this is exactly what Russia hopes for by sending a wheelchair-bound singer to the Eurovision contest? It hopes that her performance “cannot be assessed objectively.” In any case, it looks like an attempt to put Ukraine at a stand and provoke a scandal at Eurovision.