Turin, Italy — Ukrainian rap and folk band Calche Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday. European viewers and judges have expressed their support for the iconic pop culture of solidarity behind Ukraine in defending against Russia’s aggression.

After 80 days of fighting, driving millions out of their homes, ruining cities and towns in eastern Ukraine and killing tens of thousands, the band played an exciting song called “Stephania” and Ukrainian emotions. Won a victorious victory. Written to honor the mother of the group’s frontman, Oleh Psiuk, the song was reinterpreted as a homage to Ukraine as a homeland during the war.

The song contains the lyrics, “I got it from her, so I can’t deprive me of my will” and “Even if the road is destroyed, I always find a way home.”

After Pushuk sang a song on Saturday night, he held his hand in his heart and shouted, “Please, please help Ukraine!” European voters listened to this, giving the band 631 votes, far ahead of Britain’s Sam Ryder, who finished second with 466 votes.

After the victory, Pushuk’s mother sent him a text saying that he loved him, “and she is proud.” He said he thanked everyone who voted for the group at a post-contest media conference. “Victory is very important, especially for Ukraine this year,” he said. “Recently, Ukrainian culture has been attacked. We are here to prove that Ukrainian culture and music are alive and have their own beautiful signature,” he said through an interpreter. talked.

The Kalush Orchestra traveled with special permission to circumvent the martial law that prevented most Ukrainian men from leaving the country and was considered a favorite.

The band’s victory over 39 other domestic laws brought Russia’s invasion of Ukraine unify Europe, stimulated a wave of weapons and aid provision to Ukraine, brought countries such as Sweden and Finland closer to NATO, and brought the European Union together. It shows that it was driven just before it was cut off. From Russian energy.

And it emphasized that Russia’s alienation from the international community began to extend from foreign ministries through financial markets to the realm of culture. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the organizers shut out Russian performers from the event. There is concern that the participation of Russia will damage the reputation of the contest.

After the victory, Iryna Shafinska was trying to fix her makeup, which was dirty with tears of joy — including two hearts in the color of the Ukrainian flag on her cheeks. She came to Turin for a report from OGAE Ukraine, the Eurovision Fan Club of Ukraine. She said she had spoken to some of the other performers, and “they all say that Ukraine is important to them, so they want to beat Ukraine,” she said.

“It’s a great song about moms,” said Shafinska, who is also involved in Lazom, a non-profit organization based in New York. At a later media meeting, she asked to hug the group. The band responded accordingly.

Eurovision, the world’s largest and perhaps the most eccentric live music competition, is best known for its over-the-top performance and star-making potential. This helped make acting like Abaya and Celine Dion internationally famous. However, as a showcase aimed at promoting European unity and cultural exchange, the rules of the contest prohibit athletes from making political statements at the event, which was truly separated from politics. there is no.

In 2005, the Ukrainian entry song was rewritten as being considered too political because it celebrated the Orange Revolution. When Israeli transgender woman Dana International won the 1998 hit “Diva,” Rabbi accused her of ignoring the values ​​of the Jewish state.

Ukraine also won the contest in 2016 with the Jamala song “1944” about the Crimean Tatars during World War II. It was also interpreted as a comment on Russia’s invasion of Crimea two years ago.

And in 2008, when Russian pop star Dimavilan won Eurovision with the song “Believe,” President Vladimir Putin immediately congratulated and thanked him for further refining Russia’s image. ..

Russia began participating in song contests in 1994 and has participated more than 20 times. Its participation was a kind of cultural touchstone of Russia’s involvement with the world and persisted even if relations between the Putin administration and much of Europe deteriorated.

Prior to Saturday’s final, some bookmakers said Ukraine was a presumed favorite to win. Winners will be determined based on votes from national judges and domestic viewers.

Carlo Fuortes, CEO of RAI, the national broadcaster who hosted the event, said he felt that Ukraine would be his favorite. “All European citizens may consider giving a political signal through voting for Ukraine,” he said in an interview earlier this month. “And I think that might be the right signal.”

The war required other adjustments. The show’s Ukrainian commentator Timur Miroshnychenko was broadcast from the bomb shelter. A photo posted by Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne has a veteran presenter on a desk in a room like a computer, wire, camera, and eroded walled bunker, with brick spots underneath. Was showing. It wasn’t clear which city he was in.

The bunker was prepared to prevent confusion from the air raid sirens, Miloshnicenko told the BBC Radio. He said Ukrainians love the contest and are “trying to capture peaceful moments.”

Not all Kalush Orchestra teams are in Italy. Slavik Hnatenko, who runs the group’s social media, was fighting in Ukraine. In a recent video interview from Kieu, Hnatenko said the band’s appearance at Eurovision felt “just as important” as his own service in the war.

“It’s an opportunity to show the world that it’s hard to break our spirit,” he added, adding that he intended to watch the contest if he could receive a signal on his cell phone instead of in combat.

In an interview over the days leading up to the contest, Psiuk said that even if Kalush Orchestra wins, its members will return to Ukraine. He said he ran an organization there to provide medicine, transportation and accommodation to people. And he said he was ready to fight when asked. “We have no choice,” he added. “We are in Ukraine.”

He said they were going home after the victory. “Like all Ukrainians, we are ready to fight and go to the end,” he said.

The question of where the next year’s tournament will be held has been raised. The tradition is that the winner is the organizer of the next year’s event. Martin Österdahl, Executive Producer of the Eurovision Song Contest, gave Oksana Skybinska, the leader of the Ukrainian delegation, a black binder with contact details. “Know you know where to find us,” he said through Mr. Skybinska, an interpreter for him. “We are with you all the time.”

“We will do everything we can to enable the Eurovision Contest in the new peaceful Ukraine,” Skybinska said.

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