Ukraine's Poroshenko upholds Russian singer's Eurovision ban

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

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Tuesday defended the decision to ban a Russian singer from the Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev over a past performance in Crimea, saying admitting her would be against the law.

Speaking in Riga, Poroshenko said the three-year entry ban on 27-year-old singer Yuliya Samoilova was justified as she had illegally entered the Russian-annexed peninsula to perform a concert in 2015.

"Ukraine allows people to visit Crimea only with a special permit. To do otherwise is against Ukrainian law. This is well known by the Russian side," Poroshenko told journalists, saying the law must be applied equally to all.

"We offered several ways of addressing this question, starting with the possibility of video broadcast and finishing with the possibility of sending another participant."

Russia's Channel One state channel, which selected Samoilova as Russia's contestant, refused Ukraine's offer last month for her to participate remotely, saying that would go against the essence of the event.

"Russia didn't want to participate in Eurovision but wanted a provocation. I'm pleased that thanks to the actions of the Ukrainian government this provocation will not be realised," Poroshenko added.

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 in the Ukrainian capital.

Moscow and Kiev has been at 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 Russia-backed insurgency.

The Eurovision song contest final will be held on May 13.