Ukrainian music lovers have chosen their entry for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, and the television audience decided to stick two fingers in the air at their large northern neighbour by choosing a Crimean Tatar as the 2016 entrant.
Susana Jamaladinova, or Jamala’s song includes lines about the mass deportation of Tatars by Stalin in the 1944. However it steers clear of the illegal and continuing 2014 occupation of Crimea, the Tatar’s homeland within Ukraine, by Russian armed forces.
“I am so tired and so happy. I believe I can tell Europe about Ukrainian things it didn’t know,” said Jamala after winning Ukraine’s domestic contest.
Eurovision songs are supposed to avoid politics and religion, but scandalous lyrics do slip through. Georgia’s 2009 entry was deemed too insulting by hosts Russia to President Vladimir Putin. Georgia stormed out of the event.
Other are just controversial, period. Conchita’s 2014 win for Austria was proof of the “terminal decadence of the West” according to Moscow, the bearded lady look getting under the skins of many around Europe and elsewhere.
Boogie sang an anti-war song for Hungary last year, but the Israelis protested against a reference to Gaza being included in the song.
Jamala’s judges said her song won on its qualities.
“This song has an idea, this idea will go to Europe. We have to count on who is taking the idea. It does matter to me who delivers the idea. It is very important for Ukraine, and millions feel that. I gave Jamala the highest mark,” said Eurovision 2004 winner Ruslana.
No matter the fact that the Tatar lines in the song go over most Ukrainians’ heads. They will cheer every point on the night, and maybe celebrate any “zero points” for Russia, too.