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Zelensky hails Ukraine’s victory in Eurovision and plans to host the final “one day” in Mariupol | Ukraine

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Volodymyr Zelensky hailed Ukraine’s victory in the Eurovision Song Contest, saying his war-torn country will do its best to host next year’s final in the besieged port city of Mariupol.

distance The Kalush Orchestra won the Saturday Night Competition In a show of popular support for the nation transcending music, the Ukrainian president responded with a last telegram He says: “Our courage fascinates the world, our music conquers Europe! Next year Ukraine will host Eurovision!”

“We will do everything in our power to host Eurovision participants and guests in Ukraine’s Mariupol one day. Free, peaceful, reconstructed! I am sure that the victorious chord in the battle with the enemy is not far away.”

Oli Siok, conductor of the Kalush Orchestra, earlier tapped into the massive global audience, which last year amounted to more than 180 million, to deliver an impassioned on-stage plea to free the fighters still trapped beneath the sprawling Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

“Help Azovstal now,” Psiuk pleaded.

The European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the competition, said no action would be taken against the band for using the stage to make a statement.

We understand the deep feelings around us Ukraine At this moment I think the comments of the Kalush Orchestra and other artists express support for the Ukrainian people to be humane and not political in nature.”

The Kalush Orchestra celebrated its victory in the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest in Turin. Photo: Giorgio Perotino/Getty Images
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The Stefania Kaloch Orchestra’s song was a sentimental and bookie favorite among the 25 artists competing in the Grand Final. Public voting from home, via text message or the Eurovision app, proved decisive, lifting them above British TikTok star Sam Ryder, who led after national juries in 40 countries cast their votes.

439 fan votes is the highest number of TV broadcast points ever received in a Eurovision competition, now in its 66th year. Psyuk thanked the Ukrainian diaspora and “and everyone who voted for Ukraine around the world… the victory is very important for Ukraine. Especially this year.”

The Kalush Orchestra is a cultural project involving folklore connoisseurs that blends traditional folk tunes with contemporary hip-hop music in a purposeful defense of Ukrainian culture. This has become a more prominent point Russia By invading it it has falsely sought to assert that Ukraine’s culture is not unique.

“We are here to show that Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian music are still alive, that they have their own very special signature,” Beswick told reporters.

The plea to free the remaining Ukrainian fighters trapped under the Azovstal plant by the Russians was a sad reminder that the famous and sometimes exhilarating Eurovision Song Contest was being held against the backdrop of the war on Europe’s eastern flank.

The Azov Battalion, which is among the last 1,000 defenders of the plant, sent a thank-you from the Warren Tunnels under the plant, declaring on Telegram: “Thanks to the Kalush Orchestra for your support! Glory to Ukraine!”

The six-member band of men got special permission to leave the country to represent Ukraine and Ukrainian culture in a music competition. One of the original members remained to fight, and the others would return to Ukraine in two days, when the temporary exit permit expired.

Before traveling to Italy, Psiuk ran a volunteer organization he set up early in the war that uses social media to help find transportation and shelter for people in need.

“It’s hard to say what I’m going to do, because this is the first time I’ve won Eurovision,” Beswick said. “Like every Ukrainian, I’m ready to fight and go to the end.”

Ukrainian service members respond to the Kalush Orchestra win.
Ukrainian service members respond to the Kalush Orchestra win. Photo: Valentin Ogirenko/Reuters

In the basement north of Kyiv, a group of soldiers who were watching happily hoped that next year’s final would be in Mariupol.

“We achieved a victory: today at Eurovision, but soon we will have a victory in the Ukrainian-Russian war,” said Titiana, a military doctor, standing in a basement decorated with children’s drawings of the Ukrainian flag and “Glory to Ukraine” signs on them.

Tired but happy soldiers sat around a screen, some tapping their knees rhythmically during Kalush’s performance, and when the winner was announced they applauded and cheered happily.

“We will win, too,” said a Vitaly soldier. “We showed that we can not only fight, but also sing wonderfully. The next Eurovision we will host in the liberated Mariupol.”

In Italy, about 30 Ukrainians gathered at a bar in Milan to watch the broadcast, many wearing bright bucket hats like those sported by Psiuk, to support the band.

“We are very pleased that he has called to help save the people of Mariupol,” lawyer Zoya Stankovska said during the presentation. “Oh, this victory brings so much hope.”

Ukrainian commentator Timur Miroshnichenko, who does live voiceover for the Ukrainian broadcast of Eurovision, was participating from a basement in an undisclosed location, instead of his usual TV studio.

“On the fifth or fourth day of the war, they shot our television tower in Kyiv,” he said. To continue broadcasting, “We had to move underground somewhere in Ukraine.”

He said that the Eurovision show in Ukraine was significant, both online and on TV.

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

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