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Ukraine faces big fine after Russia Eurovision row

GENEVA/KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine is facing a substantial fine over delays in the organisation of May’s Eurovision song contest and a decision to bar Russia’s entrant from entering Ukraine, the European Broadcasting Union said on Thursday.

A policeman stands next to an entrance to the Eurovision Village, an official fan zone for the Eurovision Song Contest 2017, in central Kiev, Ukraine, May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

The annual song fest was hosted in Kiev without a hitch, but the run-up to the competition was marred by Moscow’s decision to boycott the event after Ukraine barred its entrant because she had performed in Russia-annexed Crimea.

“As a result of this, attention was drawn away from the competition and the brand reputation of the Eurovision Song Contest was endangered,” the EBU said in a statement.

“Therefore the contest’s steering committee ... has recommended that UA:PBC (Ukraine’s state broadcaster) should receive a substantial fine, in line with the rules of the competition,” it said, without saying how much Ukraine would have to pay.

UA:PBC Director Zurab Alasania said the fine was 200,000 euros ($228,100) and that the broadcaster would appeal the decision.

“Formally, it wasn’t us who made the decision not to allow her (Russian singer Yulia Samoylova), but I don’t think that the SBU (State Security Service) or the government will want to take part in this,” Alasania told Reuters.

Last week, UA:PBC said authorities in Geneva had frozen 15 million euros given by Kiev to the EBU as a guarantee for the successful hosting of Eurovision.

It was not immediately clear if this was linked to the EBU’s decision to fine Ukraine.

Forty-two countries competed in this year’s competition, an annual pageant of the colourful, the camp and the cheesy that in recent years has increasingly been drawn into politics.

Ukraine’s Jamala won last year with a song about war-time deportations of Crimean Tatars by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva and Pavel Polityuk in Kiev; Writing by Alessandra Prentice in Kiev; Editing by Matthias Williams and Toby Chopra