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News 12 May 17

Bulgaria’s Eurovision Singer Lands in Mess Over Crimea

A brief performance in Russian-occupied Crimea has caused controversy for Bulgaria’s Eurovision performer, Kristian Kostov, whose song, ‘Beautiful Mess’ is otherwise tipped to do well.

Mariya Cheresheva
BIRN
Sofia
Kristian Kostov. Photo: Andres Putting/Eurovision

Bulgaria’s Kristian Kostov, the youngest performer in this year’s Eurovision contest in Kiev, has made it among the 26 singers who will compete at the Grand Final on Saturday. According to predictions, he could well make it into the top three.

The 17-year-old, born in Moscow to a Bulgarian father and a Kazak mother, qualified in the second semi-final on Thursday with his pop ballad “Beautiful Mess”.

Prior to the Grand Final, bookers have predicted that Kostov will finish in third place on Saturday, after Francesco Gabbani from Italy and Salvador Sobral from Portugal. A Google Trends prediction, which determines the winners according Google searches, has placed the young performer in fourth place.

However, Kostov’s participation in this year’s contest has not gone without controversy.

Hours before he performed at the semi-finals, the Ukrainian media revealed that he had performed in Russian-occupied Crimea in 2014, questioning his right to take part in the contest hosted by Ukraine this year.

Some even suspected that he might experience the same fate as Russian singer Yulia Samoylova, who was banned from attending Eurovision by Ukraine because she had performed in Crimea in 2015.

Samoylova’s ban provoked an international row, with Moscow accusing Kiev of discriminating against the singer the breaching the contest’s rules.

The Bulgarian Eurovision delegation insists that Kostov only visited Crimea for a few hours in 2014 in order to participate in the “The Voice Kids”, a musical program of Russian public TV.

It noted that the singer was only 14 at the time, and was unaccompanied by his parents who had not been informed about the concert.

As well as being underage at the time of the concert, Bulgaria noted that Kostov performed in Crimea before Ukraine slapped a ban on foreigners visiting the annexed peninsula, which followed in June 2015.

Reuters on Thursday quoted a statement of the Ukrainian border services, saying that the singer could not have broken Ukrainian law if he visited Crimea as a minor and before the legislation came into force .

Despite the controversy, many believe that if Kostov is allowed to sing, his links to Russia could benefit him in terms of votes on Saturday.

Russian media have cheered the young singer’s qualification to the finals, saying that “our guy” had made it to the finalists.

The BBC wrote that he could pick up a lot of the votes that would otherwise have gone to Russia’s Samoylova had she remained in the contest. 

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