Lukashenko

Lukashenko: Belarus May Submit New Eurovision Entry After Belarus

Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka said his country may submit a new entry to the Eurovision Song Contest after the first one was rejected for being political.

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The song I’ll Teach You by the band Galasy ZMesta sparked a backlash for singing the praises of Lukashenka with lyrics such as, “I’ll teach you how to dance to the tune, I’ll teach you to take the bait, I’ll teach you to walk the line.”

Eurovision’s organizers, the European Broadcasting Union, Thursday threatened Belarus with disqualification if it did not submit a modified version of the entry or submit a new song.

Eurovision organizers on March 11 rejected Minsk’s entry and threatened Belarus with disqualification if it did not submit a modified version of the song or a new entry.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said the song would put the “nonpolitical nature” of the contest in question, and that “recent reactions to the proposed entry risk bringing the reputation of the ESC into disrepute.”

To critics, allowing the original entry to be performed would have added legitimacy to a violent crackdown launched by Lukashenko against mass unrest that swept the country following an August election, which demonstrators say was rigged to extend his 27-year rule.

To Lukashenko, it was another example of Belarus being besieged by outside forces. The veteran president has clung to power with support from traditional ally Russia and has accused the West of fueling protests to overthrow him.

“They are starting to press us on all fronts. Even at Eurovision, I see,” Lukashenko said, in his first public comments about the row.

“We’ll make another song,” he said, adding: “You see that this is all politicized.”

He also commented for the first time on a film released this week by a Poland-based opposition news service that accused Lukashenko of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a luxurious lifestyle.

“I will never allow myself to steal something from people,” he said.

Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka said his country may submit a new entry to the Eurovision Song Contest after the first one was rejected for being political.

The song I’ll Teach You by the band Galasy ZMesta sparked a backlash for singing the praises of Lukashenka with lyrics such as, “I’ll teach you how to dance to the tune, I’ll teach you to take the bait, I’ll teach you to walk the line.”

Eurovision’s organizers, the European Broadcasting Union, Thursday threatened Belarus with disqualification if it did not submit a modified version of the entry or submit a new song.

Eurovision organizers on March 11 rejected Minsk’s entry and threatened Belarus with disqualification if it did not submit a modified version of the song or a new entry.

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said the song would put the “nonpolitical nature” of the contest in question, and that “recent reactions to the proposed entry risk bringing the reputation of the ESC into disrepute.”

To critics, allowing the original entry to be performed would have added legitimacy to a violent crackdown launched by Lukashenko against mass unrest that swept the country following an August election, which demonstrators say was rigged to extend his 27-year rule.

To Lukashenko, it was another example of Belarus being besieged by outside forces. The veteran president has clung to power with support from traditional ally Russia and has accused the West of fueling protests to overthrow him.

“They are starting to press us on all fronts. Even at Eurovision, I see,” Lukashenko said, in his first public comments about the row.

“We’ll make another song,” he said, adding: “You see that this is all politicized.”

He also commented for the first time on a film released this week by a Poland-based opposition news service that accused Lukashenko of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a luxurious lifestyle.

“I will never allow myself to steal something from people,” he said.

Lukashenka has faced nearly daily protests to step down since the country’s presidential election on August 9 handed him another term despite charges the election was rigged.

More than 30,000 people have been arrested, hundreds beaten, and several people killed in the government crackdown on protesters.

Calls to kick out Belarus’s entrant to the annual Eurovision Song Contest had been growing in the run-up to the event in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam on May 18-22.

“They are starting to press us on all fronts,” Lukashenka said on March 13 in his first remarks on the row. “Even at Eurovision, I see.”

“We’ll make another song,” he added, according to the presidential press service.

Belarus’s national broadcaster, BTRC, on February 9 announced it had selected Galasy ZMesta to represent the country at the contest.

Galasy ZMesta has slammed the country’s pro-democracy movement, writing on its website that the group could not stay “indifferent” while “political battles try to break the country we love and in which we are living.”

The five-member group has backed Lukashenka, and its front man, Dzmitry Butakou, openly laments the breakup of the Soviet Union.

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