Ukraine’s official Eurovision 2016 entry is a politically-charged number about the historical oppression of Crimean Muslims by Russia.
The ballad, called ‘1944’, tells the story of Stalin’s mass deportations of the Crimean Tatars towards the end of the Second World War.
The song is performed by Jamala, a singer of Crimean Tatar descent, and features verses sung in both in English and Crimean Tatar.
The song begins with the lyrics: “The soldiers are coming. They come to your house. They kill you all and say ‘we’re not guilty.'”
Although not based on more recent developments between Moscow and Kiev, the success of the song does appear to indicate some resonance in light of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Since Russia took control of Crimea in 2014, some Crimean Tatar media outlets have been closed while new security measures imposed on the region’s Muslims have led to fears of a new era of persecution.
Not surprisingly, the controversial track has not been received well in Russia and doesn’t seem to be sticking to the no-politics spirit of the contest.
Eurovision guidelines state that political gestures and messages are strictly not permitted.
The rules read: “The lyrics and/or performance of the songs shall not bring the Shows, the ESC as such or the EBU into disrepute. No lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political or similar nature shall be permitted during the ESC.”
This hasn’t stopped the issue of Ukrainian affairs cropping up in previous years though.
In 2015, Ukraine decided not to send a representative to the competition due to financial restraints related to the ongoing conflict with Russia, and a year earlier the Tolmachevy Sisters, who were representing Russia, were loudly booed by the live audience in Denmark.
Jamala’s ‘1944’ was selected as Ukraine’s official 2016 entry by a combination of judges and public vote.
You can watch Jamala perform the song below.
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