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Belarus disqualified from Eurovision

By | Published on Monday 29 March 2021

Eurovision Song Contest

Belarus has been disqualified from this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. The country’s initial song choice was rejected earlier this month because it broke the big contest’s rules on political lyrics. A second entry last week then broke the rules all over again, prompting organisers to bar Belarus from this year’s competition altogether.

“On Wednesday 10 Mar we wrote to the broadcaster BTRC, which is responsible for Belarus’ entry for the Eurovision Song Contest, to request that they take all steps necessary to amend their entry to this year’s event to ensure it is compliant with the rules of the competition”, says Eurovision organiser the European Broadcasting Union in a statement. “Following this BTRC submitted a new song, by the same artists, within an agreed timeframe”.

“The EBU and the Reference Group, the contest’s governing board, carefully scrutinised the new entry to assess its eligibility to compete”, it went on. “It was concluded that the new submission was also in breach of the rules of the competition that ensure the contest is not instrumentalised or brought into disrepute. As BTRC have failed to submit an eligible entry within the extended deadline, regrettably, Belarus will not be participating in the 65th Eurovision Song Contest in May”.

The original entry from Belarus was ‘Ya Nauchu Tebya (I’ll Teach You)’ by the band Galasy ZMesta, which was deemed to contain lyrics supporting President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s violent crackdown on anti-government protests in the country. The song was the subject of a petition calling for its disqualification, with those opposed to the entry arguing that it celebrated “political oppression and slavery”.

After being told that song could not be performed at the contest, Belarussian broadcaster BTRC last week put forward ‘Pesnyu Pro Zaytsa (Song About Hares)’, also by Galasy ZMesta. However, the lyrics – which at face value are just telling various animals about the realities of the world – were actually deemed to be thinly-veiled references to the same protesters, now with some added homophobia thrown in too.

Head of BTRC Ivan Eismont criticised the EBU’s decision, calling it “politically motivated”. BTRC has also claimed that the EBU has failed to explain which lyrics in particular it believes to break Eurovision rules.

A former Soviet state, Belarus first competed in Eurovision in 2004, and made the final for the first time in 2007. This will be the first year since joining the competition that it has not competed.