Yesterday, the bombshell went off from the Ukraine. Many members of the organizing officials for the Eurovision Song Contest resigned from their position just 3 months ahead of the air dates. Executive Producers Victoria Romanova and Oleksandr Kharebin, Commercial Director Iryna Asman, Event Manager Denys Bloshchynskyi, Head of Security Oleksii Karaban and a number of their team members left their stations en masse in an unprecedented move, casting a renewed cloud of doubt surrounding the event. The EBU, the organization behind the Eurovision organization itself issued a statement after the announcement sent shock waves through fandom.
“Victoria Romanova, Oleksandr Kharebin, Iryna Asman, Denys Bloshchynski and his team and Oleksii Karaban informed the EBU on 10th February that they were resigning from their roles for the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest. The group felt they were not able to continue work on the project owing to staffing matters at UA:PBC, which the EBU cannot fully comment on.
The team have been instrumental in the planning for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, and we thank them for their hard work. We have reiterated to UA:PBC the importance of a speedy and efficient implementation of plans already agreed, despite staff changes, and that we stick to the timeline and milestones that have been established and approved by the Reference Group to ensure a successful Contest in May.
Further information regarding the core team of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest will be released in due course. The 2017 Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Kyiv’s International Exhibition Centre on 9th, 11th and 13th May. Last year Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest with the song 1944 performed by Jamala.”
The beleaguered Ukranian Eurovision plans for 2017 have come under scrutiny many times since Jamala won for the country in 2016. Issues with security, progress, venues, and technology have all popped up in the press as the year as slowly passed. Just recently ticket sales were finally announced after a marked delay, and again caused fans to be upset as certain groups used to getting preferential packages found they were instead getting none this year.
Given all the gossip surrounding the event, the EBU and UA:PBC, formerly NTU, put on a brave face a number of times as recently as the allocation draw, which was hosted live in the Ukraine and featured positive speeches from Jon Ola Sand, head of the EBU, the now removed Victoria Romanova, the mayor of Kiev and others. Singers Jamala and Ruslana, both Ukranian winners were in attendance and happy to bring the contest back to their home.
News organization on the ground, Strana, painted a picture of internal strife among the organizing party on the ground in Kiev. A story begins to form of an individual being brought in who is the cause of said problems. Paul Grytsak, is the man in question. He took over as Deputy Director of Ukrainian broadcaster UA:PBC in mid-December, after the former director had resigned from that position.
The resignation letter of the departed team did point the finger at a “lack of transparency in decision-making,” which would seem to back up the claims put forth by Strana, with one person seemingly taking control of the event and moving it in a direction the rest of the management team was not comfortable with. You can read the original Ukrainian statement here.
The question that remains on everyone’s minds now is, “Will the Eurovision Song Contest actually happen in the Ukraine as scheduled?” There has been no indication from the EBU or whomever is calling the shots in Kiev that it will change, but everyone is still thinking that same thing.