Eurovision Entrant With SMA Caught up in Political Controversy

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by Wendy Henderson |

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The European song contest Eurovision has been a much-loved tradition in Europe since 1951 and is watched by more than 100 million people worldwide.  This year’s Russian representative is Yuliya Samoylova who also happens to have spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

Find out what causes the genetic disease SMA here. 

The event usually takes place in a different country, with the country who wins the competition getting to host the occasion the following year. This year, it’s the Ukrainian capital of Kiev’s turn to host the competition.

The 28-year-old from Ukhta has been singing professionally for many years and also performed at the 2014 Paralympic opening event in Sochi, Russia. She intends to perform her song Flame is Burning at the event (which can be seen in the video), but there’s some controversy surrounding her entry into the competition and all eyes will be on her for the wrong reasons.

According to Ukrainian law, no one can enter the Crimea region of the country via Russia without first going through the Ukraine’s checkpoint border controls—something very few Russians do as they can simply fly in and out of the area. Samoylova admits to performing in Crimea in 2015 and not going through the Ukrainian border controls. As things currently stand, Samoylova could be arrested and jailed for up to three years if she tries to enter the Ukraine or at the very least, barred from the event. (Source: Washington Post)

Many believe that Russia is deliberately provoking Ukraine, as the country will be seen as anti-disability if it doesn’t allow Samoylova to enter the competition.

Filmmaker Owen Kent represents the SMA community with his horror film Angels of Mercy.

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