In 2020, BTRC organized the Belarusian Eurovision selection and musical project VAL was chosen to represent Belarus in the Eurovision Song Contest. Since the Eurovision Song Contest did not happen due to pandemic, the broadcaster decided whether they wanted to continue with their previous participant or not. BTRC decided not to give a chance for VAL, due to their active participation in the 2020-2021 Belarus protests.
In the time towards and after the August 2020 Belarusian presidential elections, VAL showed support for opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and subsequently openly supported the Belarusian democracy movement. After not having appeared in the media for five months, VAL gave an interview to an independent publication, stating that they had not been allowed to talk with the media according to their contract and that they felt neglected by the broadcaster. On September 25, 2020, a day after the independent interview was published, the Belarusian broadcaster confirmed that they would not internally select VAL for Eurovision 2021, stating the duo had “no conscience”.
In the beginning of March 2021, Galasy ZMesta was announced as the chosen act with their song “Ya nauchu tebya” (I’ll Teach You) to represent Belarus in the 2021 Eurovision.
Due to the “obvious political subtext” of the song Belarusian and international fans called for Belarus to be disqualified from the Eurovision Song Contest. Likewise, Swedish political party Liberalerna and the Belarusian Foundation for Cultural Solidarity also called for Belarus to be disqualified from the contest.
On 11 March 2021, the EBU released a statement, stating that after scrutinizing the entry, they concluded that “the song puts the non-political nature of the Contest in question”. As a result, the EBU declared the entry ineligible to compete in the contest, and demanded that the Belarusian broadcaster BTRC must submit either a new version of the song or an entirely new song that is compliant with the rules, or face disqualification.
On 13 March 2021, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko stated that he may order BTRC to opt for a new entry instead of modifying the lyrics of the original song.
On 26 March 2021, BTRC submitted the song “Pesnya pro zaytsev (Song about hares)”, also sung by Galasy ZMesta, as Belarus’ new entry, however the song was disqualified again for the same reasons as their previous attempt, and Belarus has now officially been disqualified from the 2021 contest.
The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) has released a statement regarding Belarus’ 2021 Eurovision Song Contest entry:
On Wednesday 10 March we wrote to the broadcaster BTRC, which is responsible for Belarus’ entry for the Eurovision Song Contest, to request that they take all steps necessary to amend their entry to this year’s event to ensure it is compliant with the rules of the competition.
Following this BTRC submitted a new song, by the same artists, within an agreed timeframe.
The EBU and the Reference Group, the Contest’s governing board, carefully scrutinized the new entry to assess its eligibility to compete.
It was concluded that the new submission was also in breach of the rules of the competition that ensure the Contest is not instrumentalized or brought into disrepute.
As BTRC have failed to submit an eligible entry within the extended deadline, regrettably, Belarus will not be participating in the 65th Eurovision Song Contest in May.