Eurovision racism from the Ukrainian far right

February 26, 2012

Readers of this blog know that once a year despite my very best efforts not to mention the deliciously awful Eurovision Song Contest, an annual farce that is watched religiously by my good lady despite year after year I predict accurately the votes from each country for another to her absolute amazement and also nominate the winner based on their national economic well-being before a song has even been sung.

However, so deliciously awful and predictable as it is, it is often scandal prone in some manner behind the scenes which forces me to comment.

Ukraine it seems is particularly prone to such things having had heated national debates over Verka Serduchka, a very funny cross-dressing male represent them and subsequently had Ukrainians singing both for Ukraine and also for Russia, to name but a few.

Is a cross-dressing male the right image for Ukraine at such an international event, should a Ukrainian be singing the Russian entry against the Ukrainian entry?  All those issues of self-image on the international stage in what it has to be  repeatedly said is a truly awful annual event.

This year has already become issue-ridden.

This year a lady called Gaitana has been chosen to represent Ukraine.  Here she is:

What could possibly be controversial about her?

Well of course immediately the far-right Svoboda party are up in arms as she is not representative of Ukraine – She is not white!

It doesn’t matter that she was born in Kyiv, has lived there all her life, is a Ukrainian citizen, or that her mother is a Ukrainian.  It matters that she is not white and therefore not representative of Ukraine it seems.  At least that is the opinion of Yuri Sirotyuk who happens to be highly placed within the Svoboda party.  In fact he stated she would get “Nul points” because of the colour of her skin.

Now I have repeatedly and robustly raised my concerns over the rise of the far-right across Europe and have specifically mentioned the poisonous Svoboda party (who happen to be signed up members of the United Democratic Opposition) regularly over the years this blog has been running.  Use the blog search facility and see for yourself.

It is not that I have a problem with the right to free speech.  Mr Sirotyuk has the right to say what he wants, especially so as he is a regional MP and represents a region that is predominantly responsible for the entire 5% of the national vote Svoboda received at the last elections.  I also do not have a problem with Svoboda praising Nazism and identifying themselves with it.  They are at least honest enough to wear the label that others would give them rather than shy away from the word.  He may well be representative of his voters in saying what he did and that is what he is there to do.

It can hardly be classed as a hate speech or be compared to the Nuremburg Rallies.

However as the above link shows, the ECfHR  has stated “… tolerance and respect for the equal dignity of all human beings constitute the foundations of a democratic, pluralistic society. That being so, as a matter of principle it may be considered necessary in certain democratic societies to sanction or even prevent all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred based on intolerance…”
(Chamber judgment Erbakan v. Turkey, no. 59405/00, § 56, 6.07.2006)

That would infer that Svoboda are not necessarily worthy of being part of the United Democratic Opposition as such comments must surely seriously undermine “…tolerance and respect for the equal dignity of all human beings constitute the foundations of a democratic, pluralistic society…”

However, as I have said above, and as the ECfHR also states, ” the Court is also careful to make a distinction in its findings between, on the one hand, genuine and serious incitement to extremism and, on the other hand, the right of individuals (including journalists and politicians) to express their views freely and to “offend, shock or disturb” others.”

He is entitled to state his opinions and breaks no Ukrainian or ECfHR rulings in doing so.  As  a Ukrainian MP he has immunity from prosecution anyway, so there would be no chance of even challenging him under Ukrainian discriminatory laws should somebody decide to try.

However, given his comments relating to “nul points” due to her colour, I hope that she goes on to get a lot of points regardless of how good or bad she is.  For Ukrainian economic reasons I hope she doesn’t win as the expense of putting on Eurovision compared to income from it would probably lead to a loss from the national budget, but the highest place ever for a Ukrainian would seem to be an adequate response to his comments.

For this reason alone, this year I may join my good woman watching this farce and actually be willing good fortune to Ukraine and Gaitana in a purely reactionary motivation to such obnoxious comments.



  1. […] writes about the Ukrainian far right's reaction to this year's Eurovision nomination – […]

  2. […] writes about the Ukrainian far right's reaction to this year's Eurovision nomination – Gaitana, a […]

  3. Sadly, the right to speak freely also gives the right to be a donkey’s behind, as Ms. Sirotyuk has proven.

    The whole Eurovision system is more than a farce, it is just another “talent” program to woo young minds away from more important issues, like medicine, science & math, and of course the sorry state of politics.

    So let’s all back Eurovision and the countless useless “talent” programs and look for the next Lady Gaga whilst China and Japan’s children excel in more “brain related disciplines.” Is that racist? Or truth?

    • Don’t get me started on education systems and standards as I will sound like the old man I am as well as sounding far more “conservative” than I probably am.

      Suffice to say I am surprised by the knowledge gaps between Russian and Ukrainian students and their UK counterparts when it comes to the mainstream state sponsored schools. The Slavs are far ahead for the most part it seems.

      Maybe it is because they have something in the future to aim at, namely Europe and all the wonders it holds, (from a Ukrainian POV) compared to the UK students who take such things for granted.

      After all, life here is still far more challenging for many than it is in the UK.

      • Yes, it is more challenging. But I miss the days when everyone wanted to be an astronaut or doctor or some other calling other than a dancer or singer. The days when we did things, like race to the moon, or steam into the computer age.

        I am old, and never had a problem traipsing off to a night class to learn something new. I came here at 57 and left the USA in the middle of a chemistry class and a 3/4 of the way through a Pharmacist degree. School just seems like a natural tool to me. But kids today dread education, not all, but enough to make it obvious and the entertainment industry seems to have captured it.

    • I agree with you to a certain extent. Things like racing to the moon were very much a hyped government programme and caught the imagination of the young.

      Where are those programmes now? Mostly in the developing economies.

      It seems there is a distinct lack of leadership and more importantly imagination and creativity in the leaders of the developed nations when it comes to energizing the youth or the nation.

      Star trekking has lost its appeal and nothing has replaced it LOL

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