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'They kill you all': Ukraine's Eurovision entry takes aim at Russia

“When strangers are coming, they come to your house, they kill you all and say ‘We’re not guilty’.”

UKRAINIANS HAVE CHOSEN a song about the mass deportation of Crimean Tatars under Josef Stalin as the country’s Eurovision entry.

The track, called 1944, is sung by Tatar Susana Jamaladinova – who performs under the stage name Jamala.

ukraine 2 Source: Screengrab/YouTube

The Guardian reports that the song was chosen last night by the combined votes of a three-person jury and 380,000 votes from viewers who watched the competition on television.

Soviet dictator Stalin deported 240,000 Tatars — or nearly the entire community — to barren Central Asia and other far-flung lands in 1944.

Over a span of three days in May of that year, Stalin accused the Turkic ethnic group of collaborating with the Nazis and deported them thousands of kilometres to the east, where nearly half of them died due to severe living conditions and starvation.

Jamala’s great-grandmother was in her mid-20s when she and her four sons and daughter were deported, while her husband fought against the Nazis in the Soviet Army’s ranks.

One of the children died during the journey to Central Asia.

“I needed that song to free myself, to release the memory of my great-grandmother, the memory of that girl who has no grave, the memory of thousands of Crimean Tatars,” Jamala told AFP last week.

Tatars were not allowed to return to Crimea until the 1980s, when the Soviet Union began to dissolve.

‘You think you are god, but everyone dies’

Lyrics of the song include:

When strangers are coming, they come to your house, they kill you all and say ‘We’re not guilty’ … Humanity cries. You think you are god, but everyone dies.

You can watch the full performance below.

Source: Евровидение Украина Eurovision Ukraine/YouTube

The lyrics do not mention Russia’s annexation of Crimea two years ago, but entering the song in the song contest is likely to raise the issue once again.

Crimean Tatars were horrified by Russia’s takeover of the region, with the majority opposing the new authorities. In the wake of Russia’s annexation, many Tatar activists were arrested or had their homes raided.

Jamala said she entered the Eurovision because she wanted people to hear a song written “in a state of helplessness” after Russia’s seizure of her country’s land.

“It was hard for me to recall all these memories again and again, but I understand that it is necessary now. Because now the Crimean Tatars are desperate and they need support.”

- with reporting from © AFP 2016

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Órla Ryan

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