Ukraine’s Eurovision Entry Angers Russia

Video with lyrics:



An excerpt from a Global Voices article:

A song about Soviet Moscow’s repressions against the Crimean Tatar community is Ukraine’s entry for the Eurovision 2016 music contest. Though it concerns events that took place over 70 years ago under Stalin’s regime, the online community seems to be discerning hints at Russia’s more recent annexation of Crimea.

A 32–year-old Crimean Tatar singer Susana Jamaladinova, who performs under the stage name Jamala, will represent Ukraine at Eurovision 2016, the annual European music contest.

Jamala’s song, “1944,” tells the story of her own great grandmother. Just like 240,000 other Crimean Tatars (the Turkic ethnic group that historically formed the main population of the Crimean peninsula, also known as Qırımlı), she was accused of being a Nazi collaborator, was thrown out of her home by the Soviet Red Army soldiers, and deported to Central Asia. Not everyone survived the trip in overcrowded trains without food, water or even fresh air. Many Crimean Tatars died on the way there. It was only 40 years later, around 1989, that Qırımlı were allowed to return to their homeland.

Is Crimea in 2016 like Crimea in 1944 for the Crimean Tatars?

“When strangers are coming,
they come to your house.
They kill you all and say
‘We’re not guilty’.”

This is how the song begins (see video with full lyrics in English here).

Although it doesn’t contain a single word about Russian president Vladimir Putin or Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Jamala has been quite open about where her sympathies lie.

In an interview to AFP news agency before the national content selection finale, she said she wanted people to hear a song written “in a state of helplessness” after Russia annexed Crimea, her home.

“It was hard for me to recall all these memories again and again, but I understand that it is necessary now,” she said. “Because now Crimean Tatars are desperate and they need support.”

Earlier, speaking to Radio Free Liberty, Jamala confessed that she is trying to attract international attention to what Russia is doing to Crimean Tatars. Without this publicity, she said, history might repeat itself.

“Now, Crimean Tatars are on occupied territory,” she said. “And it is very hard for them. They are under tremendous pressure. Some have disappeared without a trace, and that is terrifying.”

The content of Jamala’s entry is politically charged. There is no doubt about that, but does that make it wrong?

Image Source: By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use,
Image Source: By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use,