The Kremlin said Thursday that it hoped Kiev would reconsider its decision to ban a Russian singer from the Eurovision Song Contest over a past performance in Russia-annexed Crimea.
"The decision from our point of view is absolutely unfair, it's unfortunate. And we hope all the same that it will be reconsidered," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
Ukraine's security service on Wednesday imposed a three-year entry ban on Russia's participant Yuliya Samoilova for illegally entering Moscow-annexed Crimea to take part in a 2015 gala concert.
The Kremlin hopes Kiev will reverse the decision "ahead of the contest and the Russian participant will be able to take part in this contest," Peskov said.
He slammed Kiev's decision to ban such an "important contestant", saying this "seriously devalues the upcoming contest."
Samoilova, who is a wheelchair user, said late Wednesday she remained buoyant and hoped for a change of heart from Kiev.
"Overall I'm not upset," Samoilova told Channel One state-controlled television, which selected her as Russia's contestant.
"I will keep going. I somehow think that everything will change."
Samoilova added that she could not understand why Ukrainian authorities saw "some kind of threat in a little girl like me."
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday said that responsibility for the decision lies "on the conscience of the organisers" in Ukraine, quoted by Interfax news agency.
A national television channel on Thursday raised the possibility that Russia will not broadcast the contest at all.
A newsreader on Rossiya 24 state television channel said: "Not one of Russia's national channels will broadcast the contest itself."
Channel One, which is due to air the contest this year, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The popular tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda on Thursday headlined its front page "Eurohate", saying the ban was "spitting in the face of defenceless 27-year-old Yuliya Samoilova in a wheelchair."
The singer has been in a wheelchair since a bad reaction to a vaccine in childhood, according to the biography on her website.
"This is the first time in the contest's 62-year history that one country has not allowed in the participant of another country for political reasons," Komsomolskaya Pravda wrote.
The contest in Kiev comprises two semi-finals on May 9 and 11, followed by the final on May 13.