As the battle with Russia continues, a Ukrainian band wins the Eurovision song contest.

As the battle with Russia continues, a Ukrainian band wins the Eurovision song contest.

As the battle with Russia continues, a Ukrainian band wins the Eurovision song contest.
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The Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest in the early hours of Sunday, demonstrating widespread public support for the war-torn country that extended beyond music. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy congratulated Ukraine on its third Eurovision triumph since its debut in 2003, saying “we will do our best” to host next year’s event in the highly disputed coastal city of Mariupol. He highlighted “Ukrainian Mariupol,” then added, “free, peaceful, reconstructed!”

“I am certain that our triumphant chord in the war with the enemy is not far away,” Zelenskyy wrote in a Telegram message.

Following their performance, Kalush Orchestra’s frontman, Oleh Psiuk, took advantage of the massive worldwide audience, which numbered more than 180 million last year, to make an emotional plea to rescue combatants still imprisoned beneath a vast steel plant in Mariupol. “Help Azovstal right now,′′ Psiuk begged from behind the band’s distinctive bright bucket hat.

Later, he told a press conference that citizens may help by “sharing knowledge, talking about it, and reaching out to governments for assistance.”

“Stefania” by Kalush Orchestra was the emotional and betting favorite among the 25 competing performers in the grand finale. The public vote from home, through text message or the Eurovision app, proved pivotal, propelling them ahead of British Tik Tok artist Sam Ryder, who led after national juries in 40 nations voted.

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The 439 fan votes are the most ever received in a Eurovision contest, which is now in its 66th year. Psiuk expressed gratitude to the Ukrainian diaspora “and everyone else who voted for Ukraine… The win is critical for Ukraine. Particularly this year.”

Kalush Orchestra is a cultural endeavor comprised of folklore experts that combines traditional folk music and current hip hop in a deliberate defense of Ukrainian culture. This has grown even more apparent as Russia has attempted to erroneously argue that Ukraine’s culture is not unique.

“We are here to demonstrate that Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian music are alive and well, with their own distinct and distinctive identity,” Psuik told the media.

The appeal to Russians to rescue the last Ukrainian combatants imprisoned beneath the Azovstal facility served as a solemn reminder that the enormously popular and at times extravagant Eurovision song contest was taking place against the backdrop of a conflict on Europe’s eastern edge.

This week, twenty bands competed in two semifinals with the Big Five of Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Spain, who have permanent slots because of their financial support of the tournament. Ukrainian commentator Timur Miroshnichenko, who conducts the live narration for Ukraine’s Eurovision broadcast, was taking part from an undisclosed location rather than his normal TV studio.

“They shot our TV tower in Kyiv on the fifth or fourth day of the fighting,” he claimed. “We had to go underground someplace in Ukraine” to continue transmitting.

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