Eurovision winners ready to return home and fight
The frontman of Ukrainian Eurovision Song Contest winners Kalush Orchestra said they were “ready to fight” in the war with Russia once more when they return to their country.
Oleh Psiuk spoke during a news conference in Turin after Ukraine’s victory was confirmed in the early hours of Sunday.
Currently an order from Ukraine’s government prohibits men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving the country, but the six members of the all-male band received special permission to go and represent Ukraine and Ukrainian culture at the music contest.
One of the original members stayed to continue with the war effort, and the others will return to Ukraine in “exactly two days,” when their temporary authorisation expires, Psiuk said.
Kalush Orchestra, the bookmakers’ favorite among the 25 competing performers in the grand finale, received 439 fan votes – the highest number of televote points ever received in a Eurovision contest, now in its 66th year.
As winners of the competition, Ukraine will now host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest.
Psiuk said Ukraine will be “happy to host” next year’s event in the “new integrated and happy Ukraine.”
Psiuk thanked “every Ukrainian, the Ukrainian diaspora and everyone around the world” who voted for Ukraine in the contest, adding that, “any victory is very meaningful for Ukraine these days.”
Ukraine’s song, “Stefania,’’ was written as a tribute to the frontman’s mother, but has transformed since the war into an anthem to the beleaguered nation, as lyrics take on new meaning.
“I’ll always find my way home, even if all roads are destroyed,” Psiuk wrote.
Russia was excluded this year after its February 24 invasion of Ukraine, a move organizers said was meant to keep politics out of the contest that promotes diversity and friendship among nations.