Ukraine’s Jamala won the 61st annual Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday, May 14, with a politically charged performance. While Ukraine is celebrating Jamala’s victory, some Russian dignitaries are unhappy about the song’s message, which they believe was aimed at them and their country’s government.
The 32-year-old singer stopped the show with a moving original song titled “1944,” which is about the 1944 deportation of Crimean Tatars under the Soviet Union’s late communist ruler Josef Stalin.
Incidentally, Russia’s current president, Vladimir Putin, annexed Crimea two years ago in 2014. Jamala, who is from the European region and has family who still lives there under Putin’s control, has been accused of publicly bad-mouthing the Russian government.
“Of course it’s about 2014 as well. These two years have added so much sadness to my life. Imagine – you’re a creative person, a singer, but you can’t go home for two years,” Jamala told The Guardian shortly after her win. “You see your grandfather on Skype, who is 90 years old and ill, but you can’t visit him. What am I supposed to do: just sing nice songs and forget about it? Of course I can’t do that.”
According to U.K. outlet The Week, Russian politician Frants Klintsevich slammed Jamala and her Eurovision win by scoffing, “It was politics that beat art.”