Latvia’s message is clear: Polina Gagarina and Natalya Podolskaya are not welcome in the country.
On Thursday, Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs included the two Russian representatives in Eurovision, on a list of 25 Russian entertainers and artists deemed “undesirable people” for “expressing active support for the long-running aggression of the Russian authorities against Ukraine”.
As Latvian public media LSV reports, the list includes 20 people who took part in a highly criticized event in Moscow on 18 March. Artists, including Polina Gagarina, performed at the Luzhniki Stadium to mark the eighth anniversary of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and to support the country’s ongoing war in Ukraine.
President Putin appeared, stating that Russians “have not had such unity for a long time”.
But, as the BBC reports, not everyone in the audience actually wanted to be there. Many told the BBC they worked in the public sector, and that they had been pressured into attending by their employers. Students told that they had been given the option of a day off from lectures if they attended ‘a concert’. Some of the students we spoke to didn’t even know that the event was dedicated, in part, to support the war in Ukraine.
Polina’s public support of the war created a negative impression Eurovision fans. Her 2015 entry — the peace anthem “A Million Voices” — is completely at odds with the brutal war Russia started in the name of Putin.
Latvia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that “those included in the list of undesirable persons for Latvia clearly justify and propagate the unprovoked and unjustifiable Russian invasion and war in Ukraine. Latvia strongly condemns Russia’s unprovoked and unjustifiable war in Ukraine, which has lasted for almost a month and where Ukrainian civilians and soldiers are losing their lives every day as a result of the brutal actions of the Russian armed forces. Entry into Latvia is not allowed.”