A Russian politician has proposed banning the singer Manizha from performing at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest under the country’s flag, claiming the competition is never won by the best singer but is completely politicized.
Speaking to the online publication Sobesednik, Elena Drapeko, of the United Russia party, suggested the Russian performer follow the example of the country’s Olympic athletes, who have been banned from representing the country due to doping violations.
“Our Olympic champions will perform without the flag of Russia, and this unknown singer will perform under the flag,” the ruling-party MP said on Monday. “I think it is necessary to refuse the participation of Russia as a state in this event.”
Furthermore, Drapeko claimed Eurovision “has no meaning” and is never won by the best artist. “The contest is politicized, totally LGBTQ,” she explained. “It’s a shame that it [Manizha’s performance] is going to be against the backdrop of the Russian flag … I feel sorry for the Russian flag, believe me.”
Manizha Sangin, known professionally simply as Manizha, is a Tajik refugee who was brought to Moscow as a child, during her homeland’s civil war. Outside of her music career, she is the first-ever Russian UN Goodwill Ambassador for Refugees and is an advocate for LGBT Russians. She is also known for her campaigns against domestic violence and, in 2019, she launched SilSila, an SOS mobile app for victims.
On March 8, the Russian public voted for her to represent the country in the upcoming contest. In the two weeks since, the video of her song ‘Russian Woman’ has already racked up 5.4 million views on YouTube.
According to the singer, the song is about the “transformation of women’s self-perception” over the past few centuries in Russia – in particular, the “amazing” road they have travelled, from living “in a peasant hut” to becoming elected officials and being launched into space.
Despite winning the open vote, Manizha’s victory was not met with universal joy and celebration. A week after the heats of the competition concluded, the online publication Veteran News complained to the Investigative Committee (IC) that the song was “aimed at grossly insulting and humiliating the human dignity of Russian women on the basis of their attitude to nationality.” The IC said it would look into the matter.
Speaking to the BBC, Manizha revealed that she had received lots of abuse for not only her song, but her ethnicity. “It was very hard to understand that someone can hate you so much,” she told the British state broadcaster.
The 2021 Eurovision Song Contest will be held from May 18 to 22 in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. Last year’s competition, scheduled to be held in the same place, was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the imposition of international travel restrictions. In 2020, Russia was due to be represented by Little Big, a now world-famous rave band from St. Petersburg. The song they had planned to sing, called ‘Uno’, reached the No. 1 spot on the country’s music charts.
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