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Eurovision – A reflexive control win for Russia

March 22, 2017

Over the years, both the subject and application of  reflexive control has appeared on the blog.  It is not new.  Neither is Eurovision.

For those unaware of what reflexive control is, the above link provides a very reasonable definition thus – “Reflexive control is defined as a means of conveying to a partner or an opponent specially prepared information to incline him to voluntarily make the predetermined decision desired by the initiator of the action.”

This entry however is the first time that both reflexive control and Eurovision appear together.

Though many readers may pooh-pooh Eurovision, it was quite a big deal for Ukraine when it won the competition in 2016 giving it hosting rights in 2017.

That it won with an entry sung by a Crimean Tatar themed upon 1944 Stalin implemented mass deportations of the Tatar from Crimea will have deliberately irked the Kremlin as much as rightly attempting to keep the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia in the headlines.

Naturally Ukraine could expect some form of Eurovision reciprocity from Russia in response – and it has now come.

Ukraine has banned the Russian singer Samoilova from entering Ukraine, and thus from performing the Russian entry in Kyiv.

The reason for this ban is due to the Russian artist entering Crimea directly from Russia, rather than via Ukraine therefore undermining Ukrainian sovereignty, and also her performing there in 2015 – post the illegal annexation.

Samoilova joins a very long list of Russian artists banned from Ukraine for performing in Crimea since its illegal annexation.

Obviously The Kremlin is well aware of the Ukrainian policy of banning entry to Ukraine for Russian artists that perform in Crimea.  It is a policy that is nothing short of consistent.  Prima facie there have been no exceptions.

Ergo Samoilova was deliberately chosen to perform the Russian entry in the full knowledge that either Kyiv would make an (extremely unlikely) exception allowing The Kremlin a policy-breaking win, or that Kyiv would remain robust in its policy and in doing so knowingly causing some angst with the Eurovision establishment and quite possibly among the Eurovision faithful.

As predicted by The Kremlin, Kyiv has remained true to its policy and Samoilova has been banned from entry into Ukraine due to her performance in the peninsula in 2015.

Also as expected by The Kremlin (and probably Kyiv) the Eurovision establishment has issued a statement that hardly paints the Kyiv decision favourably – “It has been confirmed to the EBU that the Ukrainian authorities have issued a travel ban on the Russian artist chosen for the Eurovision Song Contest, Julia Samoylova, as she has been judged to have contravened Ukrainian law by entering Crimea in order to perform. 

We have to respect the local laws of the host country, however we are deeply disappointed in this decision as we feel it goes against both the spirit of the Contest, and the notion of inclusivity that lies at the heart of its values. 

We will continue a dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities with the aim of ensuring that all artists can perform at the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv in May. “

Hosts Kyiv left looking less than entering into the spirit of the competition, despite the obvious Kremlin maneuvering to create this outcome via the most blatant of reflexive control operations.

The whole affair however was avoidable -. and thus questions have to be asked as to why it wasn’t avoided?

The Russian artist in question performed in Crimea in 2015 and therefore could have been barred from entering and performing in Ukraine immediately thereafter – as many Russian artists have been,   That she was not barred from entry and performing in Ukraine in 2015 has led to this belated, Kremlin engineered banning in 2017 – and the policy consistent but undeniably poor public framing Kyiv has allowed itself to be put in.

All in all, something of an easy (and avoidable)point score for The Kremlin vis a vis Ukraine.

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