1. ITV Report

Russia pulls out of Eurovision Song Contest over Ukraine's singer ban

Russia's entrant Yulia Samoylova Credit: AP

Russia has announced it is pulling out of the Eurovision Song Contest a month ahead of the world-famous competition after hosts Ukraine banned its entrant.

Russia's contender Yulia Samoylova was barred from the country for three years last month because she had toured in Crimea in 2015 after it was annexed by Russia.

Competition organisers attempted to mediate in the dispute by suggesting Samoylova could perform on the May 13 show in Kiev via satellite from Russia.

Russia rejected that option and has refused to change its choice of contestant, announcing on Thursday on state TV Channel One's evening news bulletin that it will not take part in, or broadcast the contest this year.

Ukraine's Eurovision winner singer Jamala Credit: AP

Ukraine's ban has angered Eurovision's steering committee, which accused the hosts of going against the non-political spirit of the competition.

We strongly condemn the Ukrainian authorities' decision to impose a travel ban on Yulia Samoylova as we believe it thoroughly undermines the integrity and non-political nature of the Eurovision Song Contest and its mission to bring all nations together in friendly competition.

– Frank Dieter Freiling, chairman of the Eurovision Song Contest Reference Group

However, Dieter Freiling said that preparations for the event "continue apace."

The European Broadcasting Union, producers of the competition, said it had "done all it could" to keep Russia in the competition.

Last year's winning song was 1944, a soulful ballad about the suffering endured by Crimean Tatars who were for forcibly deported by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

Sung by Crimean Tatar singer Jamala, it angered many Russians as it was widely seen to be criticising Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea with the lyrics: "When strangers are coming/ They come to your house/ They kill you all/ And say/ We're not guilty/Not guilty."

In 2009, the EBU rejected Georgia's entry, called We Don't Wanna Put In. The disco tune was seen as a barely-veiled criticism of Russian leader Vladimir Putin in the wake of the previous year's short war between Georgia and Russia.

Forty-two countries will take part in the Eurovision Song Contest's grand final in Kiev on May 13.