Bombed at home, Ukraine lands symbolic victory at Eurovision – POLITICO
TURIN, Italy — In its third month of fighting the Russian invasion, Ukraine emerged victorious in Europe’s Eurovision music competition.
Carried away by a wave of solidarity, the Ukrainian group Kalush Orchestra racked up a record popular vote after performing a catchy folk rap track and issuing a moving appeal for the bombed city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine. Russia bombs the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, a strategic port city that has been under siege for more than two months. About 500 Ukrainian fighters were trapped at the factory in the last pocket of resistance.
“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Telegram.
More than two thousand miles from the standing ovation in Turin, Zelenskyy has pledged to host the Eurovision Song Contest next year in a free, peaceful and rebuilt country.
The European Broadcasting Union, organizer of the competition, was more cautious and pointed to the “unique challenges” in hosting the contest.
A tribute to singer Oleh Psiuk’s mother, the Ukrainian folk-rap song became a rallying cry for Ukraine amid the Russian war. A whopping 631 points puts Ukraine well ahead of other competitors. The country received the highest number of audience points in Eurovision history with 439 points.
The group had received special permission to leave Ukraine to perform in the European music competition. One member of the group remained to fight on the front lines. The group should leave in two days.
Great Britain defied the odds by finishing second after being last with zero points the previous year.
“We got more points today than we got in the last 10 years,” said Mike, 54, from Nottingham, exulting in his Union Jack jacket. “No one believed this would happen after Brexit.”
Even as energy sanctions against Russia have started to hit European wallets, the continent has thrown its weight behind Ukraine.
Waving her blue and yellow flag, Irina, 34, who fled Ukraine at the start of the war and now lives in Austria, said the musical victory had given her hope.
“It’s good to have Europe on our side.”