The organizers of the wildly popular international singing contest Eurovision say that at least for now, they will allow Russia to participate in this year's event, despite the invasion of Ukraine.
In a brief statement sent to NPR, Eurovision's organizers, the international public media association called the European Broadcast Union, said: "The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political cultural event. The EBU is however concerned about current events in Ukraine and will continue to closely monitor the situation."
On Thursday, the Ukrainian public broadcast network UA:PBC sent an open letter to the EBU, asking for Russian media to be removed from the EBU in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, calling them "a mouthpiece for the Kremlin and a key tool of political propaganda financed from the Russian state budget." The same letter also asked for Eurovision 2022's Russian competitor to be removed from the song contest. (Russia has not yet announced its Eurovision entrant for this year.)
Last week, UA:PBC had "suspended" its agreement with Ukrainian singer Alina Pash, who had been her country's planned Eurovision contestant. Protesters had complained that she toured Crimea in 2015, a year after Russian President Vladimir Putin's forces had occupied the region.
On Tuesday, Eurovision announced that the Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra would be stepping in as contestants in Pash's stead.
The Eurovision competition is scheduled to be held May 10 to 14 in Turin, Italy.