Not for the first time, we are witnessing some more drama in regards to a Belarusian national selection. Last week, 11 artists were selected from the live auditions phase to compete in the televised national final on February 16th. However, a number of those selected have published an open letter appealing for the disqualification of fellow finalist ALEKSEEV.
From Ukraine to Belarus
Last month, ALEKSEEV announced his intention to take part in the Ukrainian national selection. However, he chose to withdraw from Vidbir. Instead, he submitted his entry, Forever, to the Belarusian national selection. Nevertheless, news broke prior to the live auditions that ALEKSEEV had performed the Russian-language version of his entry in May 2017.
This situation is a common one
However, the EBU has been lenient in recent years when national final entries had been performed prior to 1st September of the previous year. Indeed, in this year’s Czech national final, Pavel Callta has received an EBU exemption as his song had not been made available commercially prior to September and only performed live in concert. ALEKSEEV commercially released the Russian-language version of Forever in November which would suggest that the EBU would also grant him an exemption too.
Fellow competitors publish open letter
Nevertheless, today a number of artists in the Belarusian national final have signed an open letter appealing for ALEKSEEV’s disqualification. According to esckaz.com, some key points of the letter include (translated):
We will not sign the contract to participate in the final part of the national selection until BTRC takes the honest and fair decision to disqualify ALEKSEEV.
We do not consider it possible to participate in a farce, which the final of the national selection will be in the event of the appearance of ALEKSEEV. Our participation will undoubtedly cause us reputational harm, insult our honour and human dignity.
The version of Forever presented is an English-translated, slightly edited and shortened version of the song Nagsevda, according to independent expert opinions. The first public performance of this composition took place in May 2017 as part of a commercial tour, which directly violates the provisions of the current regulations of the Belarusian national selection. The song was performed many times in the framework of the aforementioned tour, which gives ALEKSEEV an undeniable advantage not only in the framework of the national selection, but also in the context of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018.
The presented composition has a duration of 3 minutes and 6 seconds, which directly violates the restrictions on the duration of the song. Often, a few extra seconds do not allow the use of a composition because the song can not be shortened without losing the structure of the arrangement.
ALEKSEEV signed guarantees that the song Forever fully meets the criteria of the national selection, which is not the case.
We will either personally attend or send representatives to the official drawing of lots on January 16, 2016, but this will not be an agreement to sign the contract with BTRC.
Therefore, while it is likely that the EBU will grant an exemption to ALEKSEEV, there is an argument as to whether the track meets the Belarusian selection’s own rules. This open letter has been signed by 7 of the 10 participants ALEKSEEV is competing against. Only Adagio, Radiovolna and Shuma have not.
ALEKSEEV’s team respond
In response to the letter, ALEKSEEV’s manager Sergey Adrianov has made the following statements according to sputnik.by (translated):
The song Forever was first performed on January 11th in the qualifying round of the Belarusian selection for the Eurovision Song Contest. The studio version was published on January 9th 2018.
The dispute is about the two versions of the song accompanied by a piano at the Kyiv concerts on May 18th and 23rd 2017. We argue that the version performed at these concerts is not the same music or work we presented for selection for Eurovision 2018, and this has been confirmed by the different authors of these two music pieces.
We understand that neither BTRC or EBU would not allow any violations of the regulations and will make a legally sound decision.
The saga continues
It remains to be seen whether ALEKSEEV will be allowed to continue to participate with Forever, be asked to choose a different song or will be forced to withdraw altogether.
What do you make of this situation? Do you think that ALEKSEEV should be forced to switch song? Let us know in the comments below!