Russia’s State Television and Radio Broadcasting Co. (VGTRK), Channel One and the Ostankino radio house have pulled out of the European Broadcasting Union effective today, Feb. 26.
The move comes after the EBU Executive Board’s decision on Feb. 25 to bar Russian acts from participating in the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest. That decision was in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
According to the EBU’s statement, “The decision reflects concern that, in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s Contest would bring the competition into disrepute.”
The recommendation to bar Russia from Eurovision came from the EBU’s Reference Group and was supported by its Television Committee.
According to a report from the Russian news service TASS, the broadcasters said their exit from the EBU was “a response measure” to what “we view as an improper political sacrifice at the music forum which has always emphasized its non-political status.”
The EBU emphasized that it “consulted widely” among its membership before making the decision, and reaffirmed its apolitical goal of upholding the values of public-service broadcasting.
“We remain dedicated to protecting the values of a cultural competition which promotes international exchange and understanding, brings audiences together, celebrates diversity through music and unites Europe on one stage,” the EBU stated.
On Mar. 1, the EBU noted that while a formal resignation by the Russian broadcasters had not yet been received, they had provided a verbal confirmation of their intent to leave the broadcasting union. Until the broadcasters formally leave, the EBU said, their representatives have been suspended from serving in its governance groups, including the EBU executive board and all statutory committees.
Eurovision 2022 is scheduled for May 10–14 in Turin, Italy.
VGTRK joined the EBU in 1993, followed by Channel One in 1995 and Ostankino in 1996. Russia first participated in Eurovision in 1994. In 2008, the Russian entry, “Believe” by Dima Bilan, won the contest.
This article was updated on Mar. 1 to note the EBU’s confirmation of VGTRK, Channel One and the Ostankino’s statement.