Russian singer Yulia Samoilova has been blocked from entering the Ukraine, where the Eurovision Song Contest is taking place. Russia’s Channel One refused an offer from the Eurovision organizers to allow Samoilova to perform remotely.


The broadcaster thought it would be “strange” because it “completely contradicts the very essence of the event.” If allowed, this would be the first time in the annual contest’s 60-year history that a contestant would perform via satellite. “One of the [event’s] rules… reads that the song should be performed live on the stage,” said the Russian broadcaster.

Samoilova was banned from the country after entering the annexed Crimea via Russia in 2015. The singer says she is “not upset” by Ukraine’s decision, but cannot understand why the country saw “some kind of threat in a little girl like me.”

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, says the decision to ban Samoilova “seriously devalues the upcoming contest… The decision from our point of view is absolutely unfair, it’s unfortunate. And we hope all the same that it will be reconsidered.”

Samoilova, if allowed, would perform her song “Flame Is Burning.” The singer has been wheelchair ridden since childhood due to spinal muscular atrophy. She was a finalist on Russia’s X Factor in 2013 and performed at the opening ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Ukraine had the winner of last year’s Eurovision contest, with Jamala‘s song “1944,” hence the reason Ukraine will host this year.

Listen to Samoilova’s song below.

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