The long-running unrest in Belarus has spilled over into this yr’s Eurovision Song Contest, with organizers ejecting the nation from the competitors for songs discovered to have repeatedly violated guidelines barring political content material.
The nation’s unique track entry, “Ya Nauchu Tebya” (I’ll Teach You) by the band Galasy ZMesta, was criticized by opposition figures who assert that lyrics equivalent to “I will teach you to toe the line” endorsed the President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko’s violent crackdown on antigovernment protests. Eurovision followers began an online petition asking organizers to make Belarus withdraw from the competitors.
This month the European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the worldwide musical spectacular, wrote to Belarus’s national broadcaster, BTRC, saying that the entry was not eligible to compete within the musical expertise present in May this yr within the Dutch metropolis of Rotterdam.
“The song puts the nonpolitical nature of the contest in question,” the broadcasting union’s assertion mentioned.
Belarus was given a possibility to submit a modified model of the track, or a brand new tune. But after evaluating the substitute, the union mentioned in one other statement on Friday evening that “the new submission was also in breach of the rules” and that Belarus can be disqualified.
Belarus was gripped for weeks by large-scale protests final yr after Mr. Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory in what many Western governments mentioned was a sham election in August. His safety forces then brutally cracked down on mass demonstrations.
Both songs that the jap European nation entered for Eurovision this yr got here beneath criticism for what many seen as pro-government lyrics and imagery. The band that performs the songs, Galasy ZMesta, was additionally discovered to have what might be interpreted as an anti-protest message on its web site, taking goal at individuals who “try to destroy the country we love and live in,” and including, “we cannot stay indifferent” towards them.
Eurovision’s rules state that the occasion is nonpolitical and that “no lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political, commercial or similar nature shall be permitted” within the contest.
Belarus began competing in Eurovision in 2004 and has fielded an entrant yearly since, so it knew what it was doing in coming into songs that contained political messaging, mentioned Oliver Adams, a correspondent for Wiwibloggs, a extensively learn website for Eurovision information.
Although the coronavirus pandemic halted Eurovision’s 2020 grand finale, greater than 180 million people watched the contest in 2019. As the world’s longest-running annual televised music competitors, it has amassed a extremely devoted following of excitable followers.
The contest, which began 65 years in the past, cemented its place final yr as a cultural phenomenon with a Netflix movie gently mocking its eccentricities and obsessive fandom.
Countries’ being pulled up for submitting tunes with political undertones in Eurovision is uncommon, however has occurred earlier than. Georgia entered the track “We Don’t Wanna Put In” for the 2009 contest that was held in Moscow, however organizers rejected it for holding apparent references to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, together with the wordplay within the track title. Georgia withdrew from the competitors that yr however denied that the track contained “political statements.”
This yr, Armenia also withdrew from Eurovision. Its public broadcaster attributed the choice partially to the political fallout from the conflict with Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
“This isn’t the first time that political tension has found its way into the Eurovision-sphere,” mentioned Mx. Adams, who makes use of the gender-neutral courtesy title instead of Mr. or Ms.
“These outer-Eurovision bubble problems do seep their way into the contest sometimes,” he added, “but ultimately they’re never going to break it apart.”