Is Russia competing at Eurovision and can Russian viewers vote?

Russia was banned from Eurovision in 2022 following the invasion of Ukraine - will they be back this year?

Russia will not be taking part in Eurovision for the second year in a row.

The nation, which debuted at the contest in 1994, was banned last year after its invasion of Ukraine, before it had announced its act. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which produces the show, said the inclusion of a Russian entry at the contest in Turin would bring it into “disrepute”.

This came after it said it had intended to allow Russia to compete but faced strong criticism from state broadcasters in countries including Iceland, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands. Russia’s national broadcasters subsequently suspended their memberships of the EBU in protest, preventing them from taking part in future contests.

Ukraine are one of the 26 acts competing in the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023. The country won the previous edition of the competition last year with Kalush Orchestra's song Stefania but are unable to host the event due to the on-going Russian invasion.

Liverpool has taken on hosting duties after the UK, who finished in second place in 2022, were asked to step in and host it on behalf of Ukraine.

Will Russia be competing at Eurovision?

Russia’s Manizha performed at Eurovision 2021. Picture: SANDER KONING/ANP/AFP via Getty ImagesRussia’s Manizha performed at Eurovision 2021. Picture: SANDER KONING/ANP/AFP via Getty Images
Russia’s Manizha performed at Eurovision 2021. Picture: SANDER KONING/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

The country will once-again be absent from the competition in 2023. Russia was banned from the previous edition of the song contest in Turin, Italy, in 2022.

It had initially been planned for the country to take part, despite the invasion of Ukraine, but after facing strong criticism, the EBU eventually made the decision to ban them. Russia's national broadcasters suspended their membership of the EBU as a result and are no longer eligible to take part in Eurovision - at least in the near future.

Can Russian viewers vote in the contest this year?

For the first time in the competition’s nearly seven-decade history, people from non-competing countries can vote for their favourite act. Their votes are converted into points with the same weight as a participating country.

This means that despite Russia not competing this year its citizens could still be able to vote. But organisers clarified this week that Russians are effectively barred from voting due to financial sanctions on the country making it impossible for them to pay the voting fee.

Martin Osterdahl, the EBU’s executive supervisor for the event, said: “Some territories are subject to sanctions and to payment providers having suspended their operations and that includes Russia.”

Russia and Ukraine have a history of conflict at the contest

Russia won in 2008 with Dima Bilan singing Believe, and in turn hosted the 2009 contest in Moscow. Tensions between the two nations played out in 2017 when Julia Samoylova was chosen to represent Russia at the contest, which that year took place in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

She was blocked from the country because she had reportedly toured Crimea without entering the disputed peninsula through the border with the Ukrainian mainland. Russian television station Channel One then announced that it would not broadcast the contest or take part.

Last year’s winners were Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra but they were not the country’s first choice to perform. Alina Pash had originally been chosen through a televised national selection show and was due to sing her song, Shadows Of Forgotten Ancestors.

However, she withdrew after facing scrutiny over a reported 2015 visit to Russia-occupied Crimea. People who enter Crimea through Russia are considered by Ukraine to have illegally crossed the border, although there is no suggestion that Pash did this.