Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra wins Eurovision amid war

TURIN, Italy (AP) — Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra gained the Eurovision Song Contest within the early hours of Sunday in a transparent present of standard help for the war-ravaged nation that went past the music.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the victory, Ukraine’s third since its 2003 Eurovision debut, and stated “we will do our best” to host subsequent 12 months’s contest within the hotly contested port metropolis of Mariupol. He underlined “Ukrainian Mariupol,” including: “free, peaceful, rebuilt!”

“Thank you for the victory, Kalush Orchestra and everyone who voted for us!,” Zelenskyy stated in a put up on Telegram messaging app. “I am sure our victorious chord in the battle with the enemy is not far off.”

Kalush Orchestra’s entrance man, Oleg Psiuk, took benefit of the large international viewers, final 12 months numbering greater than 180 million, to make impassioned plea to free fighters nonetheless trapped beneath a sprawling metal plant in Mariupol following their efficiency.

Kalush Orchestra’s tune, “Stefania,” was the sentimental and bookmakers’ favourite among the many 25 competing performers within the grand finale. The public vote from residence, by way of textual content message or the Eurovision app, proved decisive, lifting them above British Tik Tok star Sam Ryder, who led after the nationwide juries in 40 nations solid their votes.

“Stefania” was penned by Psiuk as a tribute to his mom, however since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion it has develop into an anthem to the motherland, with lyrics that pledge: “I’ll always find my way home, even if all roads are destroyed.”

Kalush Orchestra itself is a cultural venture that features folklore consultants and mixes conventional people melodies and up to date hip hop in a purposeful protection of Ukrainian tradition. That has develop into an much more salient level as Russia by its invasion has sought falsely to say that Ukraine doesn’t have its personal distinctive tradition.

The plea to free the remaining Ukrainian fighters trapped beneath the Azovstal plant by Russians served as a somber reminder that the vastly standard and at instances flamboyant Eurovision tune contest was being performed out in opposition to the backdrop of a conflict on Europe’s jap flank.

“Help Azovstal, proper now,″ Psiuk implored from beneath a brilliant bucket hat that has develop into the band’s trademark amongst followers.

The Azov battalion, which is among the many plant’s final 1,000 defenders, despatched their thanks from the warren of tunnels beneath the plant, posting on Telegram: “Thank you to Kalush Orchestra for your support! Glory to Ukraine!”

The metropolis itself has been the websites of among 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 obtained particular permission to depart the nation to symbolize Ukraine and Ukrainian tradition on the music contest. One of the unique members stayed to struggle, and the others plan to return as quickly as the competition is over.

Psiuk instructed the Associated Press earlier than the competition that he’ll return to a volunteer group he arrange early within the conflict that makes use of social media to assist discover transportation and shelter for folks in want.

While the help for Ukraine within the tune contest was in the end overwhelming, the competition remained huge open till the ultimate standard votes have been tallied. And conflict or not, followers from Spain, Britain and elsewhere coming into the PalaOlimpico venue from all through Europe have been rooting for their very own nation to win.

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

Russia was excluded this 12 months after its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, a transfer organizers stated was meant to maintain politics out of the competition that promotes variety and friendship amongst nations.

Back in Ukraine, within the battered northeastern metropolis of Kharkiv, Kalush Orchestra’s participation within the contest is seen as giving the nation one other platform to garner worldwide help.

“The entire nation is rising, everybody on the earth helps us. This is extraordinarily good,″ 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 have been utilizing the Eurovision occasion as a backdrop to a flashmob this week to attraction for assist for Mariupol. About 30 Ukrainians gathered in a bar in Milan to observe the printed, many carrying a brilliant bucket hat just like the one Psiuk sports activities, in help of the band.

“We are so happy he called on helping to save the people in Mariupol,” stated lawyer Zoia Stankovska in the course of the present. “And we are pretty sure they are gonna win.”

The winner takes residence a glass microphone trophy and a possible profession increase — though Kalush Orchestra’s first concern is peace.

The occasion was hosted by Italy after native rock band Maneskin gained final 12 months in Rotterdam. The victory shot the Rome-based band to worldwide fame, opening for the Rolling Stones and showing on Saturday Night Live and quite a few journal covers of their usually genderless costume code.

Twenty bands have been chosen in two semifinals this week, and have been competing together with the Big Five of Italy, Britain, France, Germany and Spain, which have everlasting berths as a result of their monetary help of the competition.

Ukrainian commentator Timur Miroshnichenko, who does the reside voiceover for Ukraine’s broadcast of Eurovision, was taking part from a basement in an undisclosed location, slightly 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 maintain broadcasting, “we had to move underground somewhere in Ukraine.”

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

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

Ukraine was capable of take part within the music 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.

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