Crimea comes to Eurovision


Crimea, Culture of Ukraine, More

Article by: Vitaliy Portnikov
Translated by: Anna Mostovych

Eurovision 2016 will go down in history because of the “1944” song.

Today Jamala will sing at Eurovision

I never had any illusions about this festival, which traditionally is monotonous, slick, blindingly bright. Of course, really talented people may turn up at such a festival. ABBA, Celine Dion, Ofra Haza, Ruslana — these are only the first names that come to mind. However, what is the significance of victory at a festival where viewers are more interested in the voting than in the songs themselves? And where votes for friendly countries and simple songs are preprogrammed, no matter what the representatives of the neighbors may do.

And yet, when we sent Jamala to Eurovision we did a great service to this show. Because the main thing at the festival this year will be the memory and the grief of a people deprived of their homeland and capable of regaining it. Today Crimea will come to Eurovision. And this will not be Putin’s fictional “sacred” Crimea of occupiers and colonialists, but the real, living Crimea. And there is so little life on Eurovision.

The question is not whether Jamala wins the contest or not — but in the fact that what is alive is always more beautiful than what is dead. This is true for fairy tales and for this show. Yes, it is possible that not everyone in Europe will understand this. They certainly will not understand it in Russia. Our neighbors once sent the Buranovskiye Babushki [Grannies from Buranovo — Ed.] from Udmurtia to the festival. They proved brilliantly that for the Russians the nations in Russia are only peasant folklore. They also wanted to turn Ukrainians into the “Babushki.” And the Crimean Tatars. But they failed!

I will not write that today a dummy of the Russian pop world will compete with a real person. That not the case. There is Jamala and there is Eurovision. These are different civilizational goals. These are different planets, which unexpectedly came together in the same universe thanks to the votes of Ukrainians. Jamala’s voice, her song, her reminder that there is pain in the world, and homeland, and the despair of tragedy and the beauty of real victory — all this is more important than the festival itself. But Eurovision 2016 will go down in history precisely because of Jamala’s “1944” song.

Deportation of Crimean Tartars (Image:

Stalin’s deportation of Crimean Tatars from the Crimea in May of 1944 (Image:


Translated by: Anna Mostovych

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