Ukraine's ESC victory a political issue

The victory of Ukrainian singer Jamala at the Eurovision Song Contest has chafed Russian-European relations. Her song "1944" deals with the fate of the Crimean Tatars expelled by Stalin. Russian politicians have criticised the performance as an attack on today's Russia. How much politics can the Song Contest handle?

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Neatkarīgā (LV) /

Jamala's important message

The Latvians, too, once fought for their independence with a song, Neatkarīgā points out, arguing that the political dimension of Jamala's song is justified:

“Naturally political voting is a bad and unmusical practice. But it would be far worse if people voted for a song that praises Putin's regime. This time the song was about the suffering of a people. It won't become a radio hit and it won't be sung at weddings or around campfires. But it will become a manifesto in the fight for survival of a nation. Thirty years ago the song 'For my people' helped the Latvians in their fight for independence. … No one who listened to the song then cried out that politics was trumping art. Jamala sings 'Don't swallow my soul'. And this appeal to the aggressors was just as important in 1944 as in 2014 [when Russia annexed Crimea]: for the Crimean Tatars, the Ukrainians and the Latvians.”

Daily Sabah (TR) /

A study in European fears

Writing in the Daily Sabah columnist Beril Dedeoğlu sees the Eurovision Song Contest as an indicator of the mood in Europe:

“[Jamala's] song, '1944', was a reminder of the deportation of her people by Stalin. ... The memory of this tragic event was refreshed, of course, by Russia's occupation of Crimea in 2014. I am not sure if this was indeed the best song in the contest, but it seems that the jury and the people loved the message it conveyed. The Eurovision Song Contest is quite efficient for those who study stateless people's identity quests or power struggles between divergent countries. Europe's identity crises are also at the centre of the event, and it revealed this year that ordinary Europeans are indeed frightened by Russia's current policies.”

Die Tageszeitung taz (DE) /

See you at the ESC party on the Maidan

With her victory singer Jamala has finally got her country back in the headlines, the daily paper taz comments:

“People are talking about freedom and the crimes committed against millions of people many years ago. Jamala, the clever singer, says that those times must not simply be swept under the carpet - because if they are, mourning isn't possible. What a politically astute message! But her most important message was: We want Europe to see us Ukrainians and not forget us. We just want the Russians to leave us in peace. We have been part of Europe for a long time already. That says it all. See you in Kiev - probably at the ESC opening party on the Maidan. Now that's something to look forward to.”

The Times (GB) /

Chipping away at western self-confidence

Russia's indignation at the result of the Eurovision Song Contest is bound to chip away further at the West's already dented self-confidence, writes Hugo Rifkind, a columnist for The Times :

“This is the point of outrageous Russian outrage over Eurovision. It seeks not to convince, but to unnerve. To tarnish. Even in Moscow, they must know that no western government would bother fixing a song contest, or even a book prize. My God, the effort, and for what? Sow the seeds of paranoia, though, and they take root in a thousand tiny cracks. Next year, I bet, the Eurovision voting system will be overhauled again. Nobody will care; nor should they. Yet another tiny piece of western self-confidence will have fallen, like yesterday’s sequin, into the dirt.”

Efimerida ton Syntakton (GR) /

The comeback of anti-Soviet stereotypes

Jamala's song is clearly an attack against Russia, professor of philosophy Dimitris Patelis writes in Efimerida ton Syntakton:

“Is it a mere coincidence that the junta in Kiev chose this song? The song could have been an innocent hymn about the drama of a nation - but not at this point in time. … The ghosts of fascism and Nazism are rising up once more in Ukraine, in Europe and all over the world. … This is another act in the propaganda war, with extremely negative consequences at the ideological, political and geopolitical levels: a justification for the regime in Kiev and for a resurrection of the Nazis. The anti-communist and anti-Soviet stereotypes are being revived.”

Kainuun Sanomat (FI) /

Politics has no place in song contest

The ESC should stay away from such sensitive issues, warns Kainuun Sanomat:

“With their vote the Europeans have sent a clear message that they don't approve of Russia's operations in Ukraine. This is a valuable message but it contradicts the values of the Eurovision Song Contest. The ESC has already adopted a stance on difficult subjects like sexual equality. … Politics, however, harm the contest. Next time round Poland may point to Nazi Germany's atrocities or Finland may demand the return of Karelia or Bosnia and Herzegovina may evoke the Srebrenica massacre. Politics has no place at the ESC. The organisers must do a better job of enforcing this next year.”