Perhaps the surprise from Turin’s Eurovision extravaganza was not that Ukraine were the big winners, but that the Brits, the recent masters of nul points, put in a decent enough performance to come second.
An enormous 439 points from public voters showing their support following Russia’s invasion turned what at one stage looked like a tense contest into a landslide. Kalush Orchestra’s folky hip-hop Stefania garnered 639 votes with Sam Ryder’s catchy Space Man in second place on 466 points.
President Zelenskyy said he hoped that next year’s final could be held in “Ukrainian Mariupol. Free, peaceful, rebuilt! I am sure our victorious chord in the battle with the enemy is not far off.” His Telegram post added: “Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe! Next year Ukraine will host Eurovision!
In a basement north of Kyiv, a soldier called Vitaliy, said: “We will also win. We have shown that we can not only fight, but we can also sing very nice.”
Kalush Orchestra spoke from the stage to the 180m worldwide audience to plead for help to free fighters who remain trapped in the Azovstal steel plant. The European Broadcasting Union said they regarded the statements as humanitarian rather than political in nature.
The last words should go to the winners: “Slava Ukraini.”