Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has spoken out to declare that the war-torn nation will host the Eurovision Song Contest in 2023, following the victory of Kalush Orchestra this weekend.
Kalush Orchestra were the bookies’ favourites for Eurovision glory with their rousing folk-rap song ‘Stefania‘, before they went on to take the top spot by scoring a massive 631 points – largely from the public vote – to overhaul the UK, who were winning after the jury votes at the grand final in Turin.
It is tradition for the winning nation of Eurovision to host the competition the following year. Due to the ongoing invasion of Ukraine at the hands of Russia, much doubt has been cast over whether the country will be in a position to be able to do so. However, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has taken to social media to voice his hopes that the contest will be heading to his nation next May.
“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he wrote in a Facebook post celebrating Ukraine’s win. “Next year Ukraine will host Eurovision! For the third time in its history, and I believe – not for the last time.”
He continued: “We will make sure that one day the participants and guests of Eurovision will be hosted in Mariupol – free, peaceful, and restored!”
“Thank you for the victory Kalush Orchestra and everyone who voted for us! Sure, our winning chord in the battle with the enemy is not far away. Glory to Ukraine!”
Наша мужність вражає світ, наша музика підкорює Європу! Наступного року Україна прийматиме «Євробачення»! Втретє у…
Posted by Володимир Зеленський on Saturday, May 14, 2022
This comes after Kalush Orchestra made similar comments in a press conference before the grand final, telling reporters that “the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 will take place in Ukraine,” in “a new, integrated, well-developed and flourishing Ukraine.”
Speaking to NME ahead of the contest, frontman Oleh Psiuk said that their song ‘Stefania’ was written in tribute to his mother, but with emotive and rallying lyrics that include the line “The field is blooming, but her hair is getting grey / Mother, sing me the lullaby, I want to hear your dear word”, the track has taken on a new meaning for many.
“The song was composed and dedicated to my mother, but after the war the song has acquired lots of nuances because a lot of people are perceiving it as if Ukraine is my mother,” said Psiuk. “That’s why the song has become so close to the Ukrainian people, and it is in the Ukrainian hearts.”
Psiuk also said that the band’s plans after the contest would involve returning home “instantly” in order to “deal with their own affairs as volunteers and doing everything possible to help their country”. They are required to return to Ukraine as men of legal fighting age after the competition.
“One of our band members stayed in the war and is now defending Kyiv in the capital. I created my volunteer organisation helping people with accommodation, travel, transport and medicine all across the Ukraine,” he said. “We also have a special telegram channel that you can join, write where you’re from and what help you need.”
Due to the ongoing war, Russia was banned from taking part in Eurovision 2022. However, it has emerged that Pro-Russian hackers attempted to interfere the voting and results, according to Italian officials.
This weekend, Kalush Orchestra marked their victory by sharing the emotive video for the single ‘Stefania‘, depicting the nature of the war in their home country.
As well as a rare high ranking for the UK, the Eurovision final also saw last year’s winners Måneskin give their new single ‘Supermodel’ its live debut.