Who is Russia’s Eurovision 2018 entry Yulia Samoylova and why did she withdraw from last year’s contest?

Meet the singer who was controversially banned from competing in Ukraine in 2017

Yulia Samoylova, Eurovision (Eurovision, EH)

Singer Yulia Samoylova was Russia’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2018.

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She was banned from competing in Ukraine in 2017 – but was back on the scene to fly the Russian flag this year. Find out more about Samoylova below…

Who is Russia’s Eurovision singer Yulia Samoylova?

Samoylova is a former Russian X Factor finalist. She also performed during the opening ceremony of the Winter Paralympics in Sochi in 2014.

The singer won an award called Alla’s Golden Star, which was named after Russia’s 1997 Eurovision participant Alla Pugachova. She has used a wheelchair since childhood after being diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy.

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Why was she banned from competing in Eurovision in 2017?

The answer to that question is a political one. Russia and Ukraine have a fraught history that came to a head in 2014 with the controversial annexation of the disputed Crimea region by Russian forces. The Ukrainian Revolution of 2014 created a power vacuum and Russian military forces took control of Crimea on March 18th 2014.

The events of 2014 were thought to be subtly referenced in Ukraine’s 2016 Eurovision entry, 1944, which told the tale of the deportation of Crimean Tatars by the Soviet Union. Russia was furious and complained about singer Jamala’s entry, accusing Ukraine of attempting to politicise the competition. Eurovision Song Contest authorities wouldn’t ban the song though, and 1944 went on to take top honours in Stockholm, Sweden in May 2016.

Relations between the two countries remained fraught in the lead up to the Song Contest in Kiev but they came to a head in April when Ukraine’s security services (SBU) banned Russia’s singer from entering the country for the contest.

Olena Gitlanska, a spokesperson for the SBU, revealed via her Facebook page that the service had banned Russian singer Yulia Samoylova “on the basis of information received about her violation of Ukrainian law”. That violation appeared to be Samoylova’s decision to enter Crimea, which was annexed in 2014, without crossing through the Ukrainian border.

Samoylova had toured in the disputed region in 2015 and Ukraine said this was unacceptable.

Russia was offered the option of Samoylova performing via satellite or of selecting a new hopeful but they decided against both and withdrew from the competition. Instead Samoylova held a concert in Crimea on the day of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest.

Why is Russia not in the Eurovision 2018 Grand Final?

Samoylova performed her track at the second Eurovision semi-final but failed to qualify for the Grand Final.

What is Russia’s Eurovision 2018 song called?

Russia’s Eurovision song is called I Won’t Break. It was written by Netta Nimrodi, Leonid Gutkin and Arie Burshtein.

What did Russia’s Eurovision 2018 song look like on stage?

Here’s a reminder of Smoylova’s semi-final performance

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The Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final takes place in Lisbon, Portugal, on May 12th 2018

Meet the acts competing in the Eurovision Song Contest 2018