The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), an alliance of public broadcasting services, has ruled that the Russian Federation is barred from taking part in this year's Eurovision Song Contest finals, following that country's large-scale military assault on Ukraine, which began early on Thursday. The move follows calls to expel or suspend Russia from the EBU, made by EBU representatives in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Finland.
The EBU said the decision is based on the organization's values and the Eurovision Song Contest's rules, while Russia's participation in the event would harm its reputation.
"In light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year's Contest would bring the competition into disrepute," the organization's official statement reads.
"The Executive Board of the EBU made the decision following a recommendation earlier today by the Eurovision Song Contest's governing body, the Reference Group, based on the rules of the event and the values of the EBU. The Reference Group recommendation was also supported by the EBU's Television Committee," the statement continued.
Three EBU-affiliated public broadcasters in Estonia (ERR), Latvia (LSM) and Lithuania (LRT) had earlier issued a proposal to the EBU to expel the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) and Channel One (PBK), or to suspend their EBU membership.
ERR had said earlier on Friday that Estonia's participation in the Eurovision Song Contest finals, which take place in Turin, Italy, in May was contingent on whether the Russian Federation is able to take part or not; Finland had made a similar announcement.
Initially the EBU's line had been that that Eurovision is an apolitical event, and that a Russian representative was still expected to compete in Turin in May, but has since rowed back from that stance.
Founded in 1950, the EBU has over 100 member organizations in over 50 countries, including associate members outside of the continent of Europe. It's flagship event is the Eurovision Song Contest, which was first held in 1956.
Belarus' state broadcaster, the BTRC, was expelled by the EBU in July 2021 following violent crackdowns by state organs in that country, in the aftermath of the August 2020 reelection of Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko.
Russian authorities announced Friday they had blocked access to ERR's Russian-language portal over an article Thursday morning which stated that Russia had attacked Ukraine.
The full EBU statement is here.
Russia has also stripped of the right to host this year's UEFA Champion's League football final, and the planned Formula One Grand Prix in Sochi. The Champion's League final will now take place in Paris, while the Grand Prix has been canceled.
Editor: Andrew Whyte