It has had a rough couple of months fighting off a Russian invasion, but Ukraine did score a clear victory on another front over the weekend as its entry captured the 66th Eurovision song contest final staged in Turin, Italy.
The wildly popular contest features entries from every European country and analysts said Ukraine’s entry, “Stefania” by the Kalush Orchestra, benefited from a continental wave of sympathy and support in the telephone poll vote Saturday evening.
Ukraine’s entry reportedly overcame strong early performances by entries from Britain, Spain and Sweden. It is the third Eurovision victory for the Ukrainian entrant since the country joined the competition nearly two decades ago.
Politics clearly played a major role in this year’s competition. Russia was barred from sending a representative by the European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the competition, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed the victory on social media, saying, “I am sure our victorious chord in the battle with the enemy is not far off,” Britain’s Guardian newspaper said in its report.
Oleh Psiuk, lead singer for the six-member Kalush Orchestra, issued a plea for aid onstage after performing the song in Turin and singled out the beleaguered city of Mariupol, the focus of a brutal Russian siege in recent weeks.
Mr. Zelenskyy expressed the hope that Mariupol could serve as the host of the 67th Eurovision contest if occupying Russian forces can be driven from land they now hold in Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions.