Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra wins 2022 Eurovision Song Contest
Kalush Orchestra from Ukraine claimed an emotional victory at the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest.
The competition – in its 66th year – started on Saturday night in Turin but the final result was announced during the early hours of Sunday morning.
Oleh Psiuk, Kalush Orchestra's frontman, said: "The victory is very important for Ukraine, especially this year, so thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Glory to Ukraine."
Sung in Ukrainian, the winning song Stefania fused rap with traditional folk music and was a tribute to Psiuk's mother.
In the prelude to the competition, Kalush Orchestra said they were aiming to lift the spirits of their fellow Ukrainians who have fled the country or been fighting armed forces sent into the country on 24 February by the Russian president Vladimir Putin.
At the end of the band's performance at the PalaOlimpico, Psiuk said to the audience in English: "I ask all of you, please help Ukraine, Mariupol, help Avostal right now."
The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the contest, said no action would be taken against the band for using the stage to make a political statement.
“We understand the deep feelings around Ukraine at this moment and believe the comments of the Kalush Orchestra and other artists expressing support for the Ukrainian people to be humanitarian rather than political in nature,” the EBU said.
A TV audience of nearly 200 million watched 25 performers from around Europe belt out ballads, anthems and glitzy dance numbers.
France's entry from Alvan & Ahez, sung in the regional Breton language, failed to impress the judges.
Spaceman, the United Kingdom's entry, came second – the country's best showing for 20 years.
After the jury scores were tabulated, the UK was leading the pack with 283 points. Sweden and Spain boasted 258 and 231 points respectively.
But Ukraine, who were fourth, swept the public vote from throughout Europe and Australia with 439 points.
With those numbers aggregated, Ukraine claimed their third triumph after successes in 2004 and 2016.
Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the group's performance.
"Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe," he wrote on Telegram.
"We will do our best to one day host the participants and guests of Eurovision in Ukrainian Mariupol. Free, peaceful, rebuilt," he added.