Photo: Ronen Akerman
Hovi Star
Photo: Ronen Akerman

Hovi Star humiliated at Russian passport control

Arriving in Moscow recently, Israel's 2016 Eurovision contestant was laughed at by the officials, who tore his passport. Star: 'I don't take it personally.'

Israel's representative for the Eurovision Song Contest, Hovi Star, told of humiliating treatment that he received when travelling through a Moscow airport as part of a Eurovision tour approximately half a month ago, presumably because of his sexual orientation. He was travelling with other artists against whom he will be competing in Sweden in May.



Star recounted, "When I wanted to get into Moscow, I had problems with the passport control. They told me I can't go in. They looked at my passport, they ripped my passport, and then they laughed at me." He was speaking in an interview on Maltese television station TVM alongside other contestants on Friday evening.


During the interview, Star shared, "In Moscow, people have a rough time with me, maybe because I'm gay, maybe because I dress like this, maybe because I wear makeup—I don't know."


Hovi Star's interview with TVM

Hovi Star's interview with TVM


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Though Star was eventually permitted to enter the country, the Eurovision performance tour was only to be in Russia for one day. The defacement of his passport meant that Star would not be able to travel using it, and the 29-year-old singer from Kiryat Ata had to turn to the Israeli delegation in Moscow for assistance.


"I had to go to the Israeli embassy to get a new passport issued and to get myself photographed five minutes before I went onstage. It was a complete mess—just because (the immigration officials) didn't like who I was."



Hovi Star (Photo: Ronen Akerman) (Photo: Ronen Akerman)
Hovi Star (Photo: Ronen Akerman)


Though approximately two weeks have passed since the incident, Star waited until now to speak about it. "I didn't talk about it because I prefer not to attract negative stories to myself. But what happened was that the Spanish Eurovision contestant, Barei, was behind me in the line entering Russia, and she saw the whole thing. She went on a TV show in Spain and told the whole story, and she came out against Russia, saying that it wasn't okay.


Said Star to TVM, "It's amazing that this happened in the Eurovision bubble. My song ('Made of Stars,' written and composed by Doron Medalie) talks about equality. It talks about how everybody is the same."



Israel's representative explained that he maintained a positive opinion, despite the mistreatment: "I choose (to) give love. It's free. There's no need for hate; there's no need for negativity. And I choose to really take it as a lesson, and I don't take it personally." Star added that he was even fond of Russia and had visited multiple times in the past.


Following the incident, Star received an outpouring of support on social media. "There's a lot in Russian that I don't understand, but they also write to me in English, 'Who cares about them?' 'They should go to hell,' and 'Russia loves you.'" Star explained, "It's heartwarming."


In response to our query, the Foreign Ministry released a statement: "The Embassy of Israel in Moscow assisted Hovi. Following the incident, a new passport was issued for him." The incident is being looked into by the ministry.


פרסום ראשון: 04.23.16, 18:06