Eurovision Song Contest Disqualifies Belarus Over Political Lyrics

Belarus was given an opportunity to submit a modified version of the song, or a new tune. But after evaluating the replacement, the union said in another statement on Friday evening that “the new submission was also in breach of the rules” and that Belarus would be disqualified.

Belarus was gripped for weeks by large-scale protests last year after Mr. Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory in what many Western governments said was a sham election in August. His security forces then brutally cracked down on mass demonstrations.

Both songs that the eastern European nation entered for Eurovision this year came under criticism for what many viewed as pro-government lyrics and imagery. The band that performs the songs, Galasy ZMesta, was also found to have what could be interpreted as an anti-protest message on its website, taking aim at people who “try to destroy the country we love and live in,” and adding, “we cannot stay indifferent” toward them.

Eurovision’s rules state that the event is nonpolitical and that “no lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political, commercial or similar nature shall be permitted” in the contest.

Belarus started competing in Eurovision in 2004 and has fielded an entrant every year since, so it knew what it was doing in entering songs that contained political messaging, said Oliver Adams, a correspondent for Wiwibloggs, a widely read site for Eurovision news.

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