Eurovision threatens to ban Ukraine over Russian singer row

Ukraine slapped an entry ban on Russia's Yulia Samoilova, angry that she gave a concert in Crimea after Moscow annexed the peninsula in 2014

The organisers of the Eurovision song contest have threatened to ban Ukraine from future competitions unless it allows Russia's entrant to enter the country and take part in this year's show which Kiev is hosting.

Last week Ukraine imposed a three-year entry ban on Russian singer Yuliya Samoilova, 27, over illegally entering Moscow-annexed Crimea to perform at a concert in 2015.

The head of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) Ingrid Deltenre, in a latter sent to Ukraine's Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman dated March 23, said the ban on the Russian singer taking part in next month's Eurovision was "unacceptable".

As a consequence, Ukraine's public broadcaster UAPBC "might be excluded from future events," Deltenre warned the prime minister. Deltenre warned in the letter published by European ,media outlets on Friday.

Eurovision's press office has confirmed the letter's authenticity to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

If Kiev's ban against Samoilova is not lifted it "would certainly have a very big negative impact on Ukraine's international reputation as a modern, democratic European nation," said Deltenre.

"We are increasingly frustrated, in fact angry, that this year's competition is being used as a tool in the ongoing confrontation between the Russian Federation and Ukraine," she added.

Russia's Channel One on Thursday refused the offer by Eurovision to have Samoilova participating the competition remotely.

"We find the offer of remote participation odd and refuse it, for it is going absolutely against the very essence of the event," the official Russian broadcaster said after Eurovision suggested she could participate via satellite.

The singer has been in a wheelchair since a bad reaction to a vaccine in childhood, according to the biography on her website.

Moscow and Kiev has been at political loggerheads since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and over Russia's subsequent involvement in a conflict pitting Ukraine troops against pro-Russian rebels in the east of the country.

Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since the start of a pro-Russian insurgency, which Kiev and the West accuse Moscow of masterminding.

The Eurovision song contest will be held in Kiev on May 13.