Turin, Italy — Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest early Sunday in a categorical show of popular support for the war-torn nation that went beyond music.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy celebrated the victory, Ukraine’s third since the Eurovision debut in 2003, saying “we will do our best” to organize next year the festival in Mariupol, a port city that Russia wants to control.
He stressed that it will be in “Ukrainian Mariupol” and added “free, peaceful and rebuilt!”
“Thank you for the victory, Kalush Orchestra, and to everyone who voted for us!” Zelenskyy said in a text on the Telegram messaging application.
“I am certain that our chord of victory in the battle against the enemy is not distant”he noted in a message on the Telegram app.
Following the performance of the Kalush Orchestra, the band’s leader, Oleg Psiuk, took advantage of the huge global audience, which last year surpassed 180 million, to make an impassioned call to free the fighters who continue to be trapped in the nets. underground of the extensive iron and steel plant in Mariúpol.
The sentimental song “Stefania”, by the Kalush Orchestra, was the favorite among the bookies in the field of 25 competitors in the grand final.
The public vote from home, by text message or with the Eurovision app, was decisive and allowed Kalush Orchestra to overcome the British Tik Tok star, Sam Ryder, who was in the lead after the vote of national juries from 40 countries .