Kalush Orchestra music band has won the Eurovision international song competition, after making a plea from stage to help save Ukrainian fighters holed up in Mariupol, and receiving landslide support from European public in phone and online vote.
“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe! Next year Ukraine will host Eurovision!” President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Saturday night, after the final results were announced.
“We will do our best to one day host the participants and guests of Eurovision in Ukrainian Mariupol,” the president added, referring to the Azov Sea port city currently controlled by Russian forces.
Eurovision is meant to be non-political, and contestants could be disqualified or fined for breaking this rule. Russia was excluded from the competition over its military attack on Ukraine, as organizers claimed they sought to keep politics and war out of the contest in favor of peace and unity.
The Ukrainian band’s frontman, Oleh Psiuk, insists the song ‘Stefania’ was written as a tribute to his mother with no political message in mind, but it has since turned into a symbolic anthem of the motherland for Ukrainians. On Saturday, Psiuk took the stage with a plea to a live audience of some 7,500 in Italy’s city of Turin, and millions more watching the show from home.
“I ask all of you, please help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstal, right now,” he said, referring to the besieged steel plant.