Belarus barred from taking part in this year’s Eurovision

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The EBU rejected both songs the country put forward.

BELARUS HAS BEEN been rejected from participating in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest in the Netherlands, with Minsk denouncing the decision as “politically motivated”.

The European Broadcasting Union said yesterday that “regrettably, Belarus will not be participating” in the May contest in the Dutch city of Rotterdam even after it had submitted a new entry following problems with the original.

“It was concluded that the new submission was also in breach of the rules of the competition that ensure the Contest is not instrumentalised or brought into disrepute,” the EBU said in a statement on its website, without elaborating.

The group selected to represent Belarus, Galasy Zmesta, offered a first song titled I Will Teach You (embedded above), which had prompted a backlash from the Belarus opposition for featuring lyrics like “I will teach you to toe the line”.

Belarus has been gripped by political unrest since last August, after its strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko claimed a sixth presidential term in a vote the opposition and Western diplomats said was rigged.

The election results triggered mass street protests which were met with a violent crackdown that resulted in thousands of protesters detained, at least several protesters killed, and hundreds sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

Further protests

And this afternoon, police in Belarus detained dozens of protesters and at least five journalists, a rights group said.

The opposition Telegram channel Nexta that mobilises and coordinates protesters called this week for a “second wave” of rallies to kick off today after a lull in protests.

Images circulating social media and published by local media showed the Minsk city centre heavily guarded by military vehicles.

Viasna said that among the journalists detained were two editors of the independent Tut.by news website.

The European Union then imposed sanctions on Lukashenko and his allies.

While Galasy Zmesta’s second song was more nuanced, the group’s leader was cited as saying by RIA Novosti early Saturday morning that the meaning of its fable about a bunny rabbit, domestic chickens and a fox “is very obvious”.

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“A song about rabbits”

This came after Belarus’s national broadcaster slammed Eurovision on its Telegram channel late Friday.

“For Europe to be scared to allow a song on stage about rabbits — this is the final and absolute disgrace,” it wrote.

“The decision to disqualify us is politically motivated,” Ivan Eismont, who heads the ex-Soviet country’s Eurovision selection committee, was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency.

“We know what the European Union loves,” he said.

Efforts are being made to make sure as many artists as possible can perform live for the Eurovision, which is due to have its final on 22 May.

© – AFP, 2021

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