Russia has put the Ukrainian singer, Jamala, who won the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest onto its wanted list.
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Jamala – real name Susana Alimivna Jamaladinova – was listed as being sought for violating a criminal law in the Interior Ministry database (via AP News). She was allegedly charged for spreading false information about the Russian military and the ongoing fighting in Ukraine after a law banning such was adopted last year.
The singer won the 2016 singing contest with her song ‘1944’, which was named after the year that the Soviet Union deported Crimean Tatars, an annexation largely regarded as illegitimate by other countries who still viewed Crimea as a Ukrainian territory – nearly two years after Russia annexed Crimea, according to Pitchfork.
‘1944’ depicted the suffering endured by her ancestors during deportations under the regime of the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, which caused further tension with Russia.
According to AP News, Russia protested against the song from being allowed in the competition, saying it violated rules against political speech in Eurovision. The track was able to be entered in the competition due to it not making any specific criticism of Russia or the Soviet Union, although it drew implications, opening with the lyrics “When strangers are coming / they come to your house / they kill you all and say / ‘We’re not guilty’”.
In 2022, Russia was banned from competing in that year’s Eurovision Song Contest, following backlash to a statement saying the country would be allowed to compete despite launching a military assault on Ukraine.
Ukraine severed diplomatic ties with Russia, and declared martial law, after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an attack on the neighbouring nation on Thursday, February 24, 2022.
Later that year, Jamala appeared at the benefit ‘Concert For Ukraine’ and performed ‘1944’.
She delivered an emotive performance of her Eurovision winning song while holding a Ukrainian flag throughout. At the end, Jamala held the flag high and delivered a message of support to her home country.