Belarus has been banned from the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest after submitting two songs that were ruled to be in breach of competition rules.
The band representing the country, Galasy ZMesta, is known for mocking anti-government protests. Belarus has been in a political crisis since August when Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the nation for 26 years, refused to resign in a disputed election.
The EBU, the organisation behind Eurovision, ruled that Galasy ZMesta’s submissions had a political subtext, which conflicts with its rules that “the Contest is not instrumentalised or brought into disrepute”.
In a statement about the second song, the EBU added it had “carefully scrutinised the new entry to assess its eligibility to compete”.
“Regrettably, Belarus will not be participating in the 65th Eurovision Song Contest in May.”
— Eurovision Song Contest (@Eurovision) March 26, 2021
The statement followed Galasy ZMesta’s second entry after they were asked by the EBU to re-enter with a neutral song.
One of the songs, ‘I Will Teach You’, featured lyrics including: “I will teach you to toe the line.”
Lukashenko weighed in on the controversy surrounding the first song. “They are starting to press us on all fronts. Even at Eurovision, I see,” he said [via BBC News].
“We’ll make another song,” he added. “You see that this is all politicised.”
Russia’s 2021 Eurovision entry by Manizha was also recently investigated for lyrical messages potentially containing “illegal messages” that some said incite “hatred towards men”. The subsequent investigation found no illegality in the track’s content.
The EBU has allowed several participating countries to allocate the same artists who were due to represent them at the 2020 event, which was cancelled due to the pandemic.