Ukrainian singer Alina Pash has pulled out of Eurovision 2022 following the backlash regarding her trip to Crimea in 2015.
The 28-year-old singer was set to represent Ukraine at the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest after winning Vidbir, the Ukraine national final last Saturday.
Now, however, Ukraine’s national broadcaster UA:PBC has reversed its decision for Pash to be the country’s representative following an investigation into a 2015 trip she made to Crimea, an area of Ukraine controlled by Russia since 2014.
Ukraine currently has strict rules in place on how people should travel to the region. Ukrainians and foreigners are only allowed to travel there through official border checkpoints and it is illegal to travel to Crimea via Russia.
“On Wednesday afternoon, in a mutual agreement between the broadcaster, the organising committee of Vidbir and the artist, it was decided that Alina’s participation in the Contest would not go ahead,” the European Broadcasting Union said in a statement.
“According to the Vidbir rules, UA:PBC can decide on the representative of Ukraine at the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest, from the field of other finalists that participated in the national selection process on Saturday night,” they added.
Speaking to BBC Newsbeat before she was removed, Pash defended herself against claims of being “un-Ukrainian.”
“I’m a Ukrainian girl. I’m talking in Ukrainian and my song is about Ukraine. There is no way that I can be against it,” she said.