Eurovision is notorious for being plagued by controversy. With Eurovision 2016 still months away it seems there’s already been a scandal thanks to Ukraine’s song entry ‘1944’.
Performed by Crimean Tatar singer Susana Jamaladinova under the stage name Jamala, the song’s lyrics actually focus on Joseph Stalin’s mass deportation of 244,000 Crimean Tatars in 1944 – a tragic event that has been equated to genocide by the Ukrainian parliament.
Russia, it seems was none too pleased about the decision, with Vadim Dengin, the first deputy chairman of the Parliament’s committee on information policy telling the Moscow Times this week that it was “a strange choice. “
He continued: “I’m sure it is there to once again humiliate Russia. I hope that those in charge of Eurovision do not allow such things on the grounds of their competition.”
Mustafa Dzhemilev a prominent politician who is part of the Crimean Tatar ethnic group was considerably more enthusiastic about the songL “I am confident that Jamala will present with dignity our country at the Eurovision. I believe that the whole world will know about ‘1944,’ ” he wrote on Facebook – as reported by the Kyiv Post.
Year in and year out, political tensions between competing countries can bubble to the surface and are often also reflected in the voting tallies at the finals. Songs with overt political content however are banned, so it remains to be seen whether the song will actually make it to the main stage in Stockholm.
A spokesperson for the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said this week “It is decided on a case-by-case basis. Explicit political messages are not allowed in the songs, nor should they bring the contest into disrepute or have any commercial messages.”
In 2009 Georgia was infamously banned for their own anti-Putin dig with the unsubtle song title “We Don’t Wanna Put In”.
In 2000, Israeli group Ping Pong caused quite the stir when they finished their rather off-key performance by unfurling Syrian flags along with Israeli flags and calling for peace.
It later emerged that two of the group’s members were in fact journalists from an Israeli newspaper and the group confessed to entering the contest as a joke. Israel’s broadcasting authority renounced the entry.
A decision about the Ukrainian song is expected to be made after 14 March (the deadline for all song submissions) by the EBU’s reference group.