Petition for Belorussian broadcaster to leave EBU

| January 23, 2021

Don’t be too political? Even though Danish singer Leonora has warned us to keep politics outside of Eurovision, Belarus once again shows that this is not always possible. Due to the ongoing political conflicts and protests based around Alexander Lukahsenko, a Belarorussian foundation called Cultural Solidarity has started a campaign towards the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to remove Belarus from the EBU and subsequently, Eurovision.

Since it is a requirement to have at least one broadcasting channel in the EBU, this would therefore mean that Belarus wouldn’t be allowed to participate at the Eurovision Song Contest or Junior Eurovision. Belarus, unlike other countries like Germany or France, has only one channel (BTRC) in the EBU. A removal would therefore take away both the right to participate or broadcast any Eurovision events.

One recent example on how politics can influence Eurovision participations is Armenia at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2020: Based on the ongoing war against Azerbaijan, Armenia withdrew from the competition in November one week before the actual contest.

A removal from the EBU wouldn’t be the first consequence for Belarus due to the ongoing protests. A few days ago, Belarus already lost their hosting rights of the scheduled Men’s World Championships in Ice Hockey.

In addition to that, political reasons have already influenced the internal selection process for this year. Last year’s winner of the Belorussian national selection Eurofest, the duo VAL, have already been declined from another representation of their country. Even though it hasn’t been publicly announced, VAL are huge supporters of the protests.

No matter how the EBU will react (or not react) to this petition, the general question arises: How does the EBU deal with countries with huge deficits in democracy? Belarus, also known for being the “last dictatorship in Europe” is only one exemplary country for this. Countries like Russia or Azerbaijan also shortcomings in democratic principles such as fair and free elections, independent courts and minority rights (especially LGBTQ+ people which are a huge fan base of Eurovision). If the EBU decides to remove Belarus from their Union, how can they keep other countries with similar things going on? As one can see, this matter has the potential to be very controversial and fundamental for the EBU.

Belarus at Eurovision

The country in Eastern Europe debuted in 2004. With a total amount of 16 continuous participations (excluding 2020), Belarus qualified 6 times for the grand final. Dmitry Kaldun‘s participation in 2007 with the song Work Your Magic is still their best results so far with a successful 6th place finish. Their last qualification to the grand final was in 2019 by Zena with the song Like It. She finished 24th.

What do you think about this campaign? Would you like to see Belarus at Eurovision as usual despite the ongoing protests? Let us know down in the comments.

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