A Ukrainian nationalist politician has come under fire for alleged racist comments against his country’s representative to the Eurovision contest, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.The comments were made by Yuri Syrotiuk, a spokesman for Ukraine’s nationalist Svoboda party against the dark-skinned singer Gaitana, born of a Congolese father and Ukrainian mother. “Yes, Gaitana sings well, but she does not represent our culture,” Sirotyuk was quoted as saying, the AP reports. “Eurovision must be a show of national talents.”
“It looks like we don’t want to show our face and Ukraine will be associated with a different continent, somewhere in Africa.”
The Svoboda party and Syrotiuk in particular, have denied making xenophobic comments. Gaitana was selected on February 18 to represent Ukraine at the Eurovision finals in Baku, Azerbaijan, in May.
“What I said concerned the way the national selection was made. No party can determine who should participate and who should not… I didn’t make any comment on Gaitana, her skin colour, or her race,” Syrotiuk told RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service.
Several Ukrainian celebrities, as well as the Prime Minister’s spokesperson have come out in Gaitana’s defence and slammed Syrotiuk, according to Euronews. The singer herself said the remarks tarnished Ukraine’s image.
Ukraine’s National Television, which held the contest where Gaitana was declared the winner by viewers and judges, has demanded that Syrotiuk apologise to Gaitana.
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