Ukrainian band wins Eurovision track competitors as struggle with Russia continues

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Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra gained the Eurovision Track Contest within the early hours of Sunday in a transparent present of widespread assist for the war-ravaged nation that went past music.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the victory, Ukraine’s third since its 2003 Eurovision debut, and mentioned “we are going to do our greatest” to host subsequent yr’s contest within the hotly contested port metropolis of Mariupol. He underlined “Ukrainian Mariupol,” including: “free, peaceable, rebuilt!”

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Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine celebrate after winning the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena, in Turin, Italy, Saturday, May 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine have a good time after profitable the Grand Last of the Eurovision Track Contest at Palaolimpico enviornment, in Turin, Italy, Saturday, Might 14, 2022. (AP Picture/Luca Bruno)

“I’m positive our victorious chord within the battle with the enemy isn’t far off,” Zelenskyy mentioned in a put up on Telegram messaging app.

Kalush Orchestra’s frontman, Oleh Psiuk, took benefit of the large world viewers, final yr numbering greater than 180 million, to make impassioned plea to free fighters nonetheless trapped beneath a sprawling metal plant in Mariupol following their efficiency.

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

He later informed a information convention that individuals can assist by “spreading info, speaking out this, reaching out to governments to assist.”

Kalush Orchestra’s track, “Stefania,” was the sentimental and bookmakers’ favourite among the many 25 competing performers within the grand finale. The general public vote from house, 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 forged their votes.

The 439 fan votes is the very best variety of televote factors ever acquired in a Eurovision contest, now in its 66th yr. Psiuk thanked the Ukrainian diaspora and “and everybody all over the world who voted for Ukraine. … The victory is essential to Ukraine. Particularly this yr.”

“Stefania” was penned by Psiuk as a tribute to his mom, however since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion it has change into an anthem to the motherland, with lyrics that pledge: “I’ll at all times discover my approach house, even when all roads are destroyed.”

Kalush Orchestra itself is a cultural mission that features folklore specialists and mixes conventional people melodies and up to date hip hop in a purposeful protection of Ukrainian tradition. That has change into an much more salient level as Russia by means of its invasion has sought falsely to assert that Ukraine’s culture is not unique.

“We’re right here to indicate that Ukrainian tradition and Ukrainian music are alive, they usually have their very own and really particular signature,” Psuik informed journalists.

The plea to free the remaining Ukrainian fighters trapped beneath the Azovstal plant by Russians served as a somber reminder that the vastly widespread and at occasions flamboyant Eurovision track contest was being performed out towards the backdrop of a struggle on Europe’s jap flank.

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: “Thanks to Kalush Orchestra on your assist! Glory to Ukraine!”

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

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Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine arrives for the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena, in Turin, Italy, Saturday, May 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine arrives for the Grand Last of the Eurovision Track Contest at Palaolimpico enviornment, in Turin, Italy, Saturday, Might 14, 2022. (AP Picture/Luca Bruno)

The six-member, all-male band acquired particular permission to depart the nation to characterize Ukraine and Ukrainian tradition on the music contest. One of many unique members stayed to combat, and the others will likely be again in Ukraine in two days, when their momentary exit allow expires.

Earlier than touring to Italy, Psiuk was working a volunteer group he arrange early within the struggle that makes use of social media to assist discover transportation and shelter for individuals in want

“It’s laborious to say what I’m going to do, as a result of that is the primary time I win Eurovision,” Psuik mentioned. “Like each Ukrainian, I’m able to combat and go till the tip.” .

Whereas the assist for Ukraine within the track contest was in the end overwhelming, the competition remained large open till the ultimate widespread votes had been tallied. And struggle or not, followers from Spain, Britain and elsewhere coming into the PalaOlimpico venue from all through Europe had been rooting for their very own nation to win.

Nonetheless, Ukrainian music fan Iryna Lasiy mentioned she felt world assist for her nation within the struggle and “not just for the music.”

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

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

“The entire nation is rising, everybody on the earth helps us. That is extraordinarily good,″ mentioned Julia Vashenko, a 29-year-old trainer.

“I consider that wherever there may be Ukraine now and there is a chance to speak in regards to the struggle, we have to speak,″ mentioned Alexandra Konovalova, a 23-year-old make-up artist in Kharkiv. “Any competitions are essential now, due to them extra individuals study what is occurring now.”

Ukrainians in Italy also were utilizing the Eurovision occasion as a backdrop to a flashmob this week to enchantment for assist for Mariupol. About 30 Ukrainians gathered in a bar in Milan to look at the published, many sporting a vivid bucket hat just like the one Psiuk sports activities, in assist of the band.

“We’re so completely happy he referred to as on serving to to avoid wasting the individuals in Mariupol,” mentioned lawyer Zoia Stankovska through the present. “Oh, this victory brings a lot hope.”

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Cornelia Jakobs from Sweden arrives for the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest at Palaolimpico arena, in Turin, Italy, Saturday, May 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Cornelia Jakobs from Sweden arrives for the Grand Last of the Eurovision Track Contest at Palaolimpico enviornment, in Turin, Italy, Saturday, Might 14, 2022. (AP Picture/Luca Bruno)

The winner takes house 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 yr in Rotterdam. The victory shot the Rome-based band to worldwide fame, opening for the Rolling Stones and showing on Saturday Evening Reside and quite a few journal covers of their sometimes genderless costume code.

Twenty bands had been chosen in two semifinals this week, and had been competing together with the Large 5 of Italy, Britain, France, Germany and Spain, which have everlasting berths as a consequence of their monetary assist of the competition.

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

“On the fifth or fourth day of the struggle, they shot our TV tower in Kyiv,” he mentioned. To maintain broadcasting, “we needed to transfer underground someplace in Ukraine.”

Exhibiting Eurovision in Ukraine was essential, on-line and on TV, he mentioned.

“This yr, I feel it’s extra symbolic than ever,” Miroshnichenko mentioned.

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Ukraine was in a position to take part within the music contest “due to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the resistance of our individuals,” he mentioned.

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