Ukraine favorite to win Eurovision Song Contest amid war

TURIN, Italy (AP) — Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra gained the Eurovision Song Contest within the early hours of Sunday in a transparent display of well-liked enhance for the war-ravaged country that went past song.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the victory, Ukraine’s 3rd since its 2003 Eurovision debut, and stated “we will do our best” to host subsequent yr’s contest within the hotly contested port town of Mariupol. He underlined “Ukrainian Mariupol,” including: “free, peaceful, rebuilt!”

“I’m positive our victorious chord within the combat with the enemy isn’t a long way off,” Zelenskyy stated in a submit on Telegram messaging app.

Kalush Orchestra’s entrance guy, Oleh Psiuk, took benefit of the large international target market, remaining yr numbering greater than 180 million, to make impassioned plea to loose combatants nonetheless trapped underneath a sprawling metal plant in Mariupol following their efficiency.

“Help Azovstal, at the moment,″ Psiuk implored from underneath a brilliant bucket hat that has turn into the band’s trademark amongst fanatics.

He later instructed a information convention that individuals can assist through “spreading information, talking out this, reaching out to governments to help.”

Kalush Orchestra’s music, “Stefania,” was once the sentimental and bookmakers’ favourite some of the 25 competing performers within the grand finale. The public vote from house, by the use of textual content message or the Eurovision app, proved decisive, lifting them above British Tik Tok superstar Sam Ryder, who led after the nationwide juries in 40 nations forged their votes.

The 439 fan votes is the best possible choice of televote issues ever won in a Eurovision contest, now in its 66th yr. Psiuk thanked the Ukrainian diaspora and “and everyone around the world who voted for Ukraine. … The victory is very important to Ukraine. Especially this year.”

“Stefania” was once penned through Psiuk as a tribute to his mom, however since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion it has turn into an anthem to the motherland, with lyrics that pledge: “I’ll all the time in finding my manner house, despite the fact that all roads are destroyed.”

Kalush Orchestra itself is a cultural challenge that incorporates folklore mavens and mixes conventional folks melodies and recent hip hop in a functional protection of Ukrainian tradition. That has turn into an much more salient level as Russia via its invasion has sought falsely to say that Ukraine’s tradition isn’t distinctive.

“We are right here to turn that Ukrainian tradition and Ukrainian song are alive, and they have got their very own and really particular signature,” Psuik instructed newshounds.

The plea to loose the rest Ukrainian combatants trapped underneath the Azovstal plant through Russians served as a somber reminder that the vastly well-liked and from time to time flamboyant Eurovision music contest was once being performed out towards the backdrop of a conflict on Europe’s japanese flank.

The Azov battalion, which is likely one of the plant’s remaining 1,000 defenders, despatched their thank you from the warren of tunnels underneath the plant, posting on Telegram: “Thank you to Kalush Orchestra for your support! Glory to Ukraine!”

The town itself has been the website online of one of the worst destruction of the two 1/2-month conflict, as Russia seeks to safe a land bridge between separatist-controlled Donbas and Crimea, which it annexed in 2014.

The six-member, all-male band won particular permission to go away the rustic to constitute Ukraine and Ukrainian tradition on the song contest. One of the unique individuals stayed to combat, and the others might be again in Ukraine in two days, when their brief go out allow expires.

Before touring to Italy, Psiuk was once operating a volunteer group he arrange early within the conflict that makes use of social media to assist in finding transportation and refuge for other folks in want

“It is hard to say what I am going to do, because this is the first time I win Eurovision,” Psuik said. ”Like each and every Ukrainian, I’m in a position to combat and move till the top.” .

While the enhance for Ukraine within the music contest was once in the long run overwhelming, the competition remained vast open till the overall well-liked votes had been tallied. And conflict or now not, fanatics from Spain, Britain and in other places coming into the PalaOlimpico venue from all over Europe had been rooting for their very own nation to win.

Still, Ukrainian song fan Iryna Lasiy stated she felt international enhance for her nation within the conflict and “not only for the music.”

Russia was once excluded this yr after its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, a transfer organizers stated was once supposed to stay politics out of the competition that promotes variety and friendship amongst international locations.

Back in Ukraine, within the battered northeastern town of Kharkiv, Kalush Orchestra’s participation in Eurovision is noticed as giving the country any other platform to garner global enhance.

“The complete nation is emerging, everybody on the planet helps us. This is terribly great,″ stated Julia Vashenko, a 29-year-old instructor.

“I believe that wherever there is Ukraine now and there is an opportunity to talk about the war, we need to talk,″ said Alexandra Konovalova, a 23-year-old make-up artist in Kharkiv. “Any competitions are important now, because of them more people learn about what is happening now.”

Ukrainians in Italy additionally had been the use of the Eurovision tournament as a backdrop to a flashmob this week to enchantment for assist for Mariupol. About 30 Ukrainians accrued in a bar in Milan to look at the published, many dressed in a brilliant bucket hat like the only Psiuk sports activities, in enhance of the band.

“We are so satisfied he known as on serving to to save lots of the folks in Mariupol,” stated legal professional Zoia Stankovska throughout the display. “Oh, this victory brings such a lot hope.”

The winner takes house a tumbler microphone trophy and a possible profession spice up — even supposing Kalush Orchestra’s first fear is peace.

The tournament was once hosted through Italy after native rock band Maneskin gained remaining yr in Rotterdam. The victory shot the Rome-based band to global repute, opening for the Rolling Stones and showing on Saturday Night Live and a large number of mag covers of their most often genderless dress code.

Twenty bands had been selected in two semifinals this week, and had been competing along side the Big Five of Italy, Britain, France, Germany and Spain, that have everlasting berths because of their monetary enhance of the competition.

Ukrainian commentator Timur Miroshnichenko, who does the reside voiceover for Ukraine’s broadcast of Eurovision, was once taking part from a basement in an undisclosed location, fairly than from his standard TV studio.

“On the fifth or fourth day of the war, they shot our TV tower in Kiev,” he stated. To stay broadcasting, “we had to move underground somewhere in Ukraine.”

Showing Eurovision in Ukraine was once essential, on-line and on TV, he stated.

“This year, I think it’s more symbolic than ever,” Miroshnichenko stated.

Ukraine was once in a position to take part within the song contest “thanks to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the resistance of our people,” he stated.


Barry reported from Milan. Vasilisa Stepanenko contributed from Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This subject material will not be printed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed with out permission.

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