Ukraine has won the Eurovision Song Contest in a huge show of support from the rest of the continent after Russia’s invasion of the country.
When they performed their folk-rap song Stefania, the Kalush Orchestra stormed to the top of the charts, beating fierce competition from the UK and Italy.
The group was out on the streets and fought against Russian attackers just a few weeks before they went on stage in Turin – instead of rehearsing for the biggest show of their lives.
Britain’s Sam Ryder took second place – the first time Britain has placed in the top three Eurovision Song Contest in 20 years.
The singer was top after the national jury vote with 283 points, but there was a huge increase in support for Ukraine in the referendum.
Britain had been waiting a quarter of a century to win Eurovision and the announcement of the winner was a nail-biter, as it came to the final vote.
Russia was excluded from the competition this year in response to its invasion of Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Ukraine’s victory and told the world in his evening speech: “Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!
“I am sure that our victory record in the battle with the enemy is not far off.
“Glory to Ukraine!”
Ukraine had widely tipped to take the title and in the evening there had been enormous European support for the war-torn country. Almost all participants wore Ukrainian flags as well as their own.
After their performance, they passionately appealed to the liberation of people still trapped in the besieged Mariupol steelworks.
“Help Azovstal, right now,” said Kalush Orchestra frontman Oleg Psiuk.
Winners ready to return home and fight
Psiuk later told a news conference that the band would soon return to Ukraine.
“We have a temporary permit to be here and it will end in two days and in exactly two days we will be back in Ukraine.
“It is difficult to say exactly what I will do, because this is the first time I will win the Eurovision Song Contest, but like all Ukrainians we are ready to fight as much as we can and continue to the end.”
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Hundreds of millions around Europe watched one of the world’s most watched television events, with a song about Meghan Markle and a song called Give That Wolf A Banana among the 25 finalists.
Clears ecstatic over the result
Sam Ryder barely missed joining Katrina and the Waves and Bucks Fizz to give Britain its sixth win since 1957.
But he was ecstatic about the result: “There is so much gratitude, what an experience,” he said.
His journey to Turin began during the lockdown, when he started singing on TikTok and continued to gather 12 million followers on the app.
He was chosen by the BBC and industry experts to lead the British delegation, after years of disappointing results at the competition – among others. last year’s zero points.