It is now celebrated internationally, but the Ukrainian winning band Kalush Orchestra after their triumph at the Eurovision Song Contest with the highest audience rating in history does not feel like throwing parties themselves.
“Maybe we will have a big celebration after the war, because the victory is great, winning the ESC is fantastic, but so much is happening right now,” said rapper Oleh Psjuk during a video press conference. “People you know are getting killed in this war, or fighting in it, or losing their jobs in Ukraine.” On Sunday, the band released a new video for their hip-hop song “Stefania,” featuring footage from current war scenes like Irpin or Butscha in the background.
A country at war as an ESC winner, that has never happened before. Whether and how the next contest can be held in the Ukraine remains an open question – even if Kiev’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko has spoken out in favor of holding the 2023 competition in the Ukrainian capital if possible.
While the Ukrainian Post is now planning an ESC stamp, another shadow falls on the widely shared joy after the show finale in Turin last Saturday. According to national media reports, the Ukrainian ESC jury awarded zero points to the candidates from Poland (Krystian Ochman, 12th place overall) and Lithuania (Monika Liu, 14th place). The two countries are particularly committed to helping Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s war of aggression.
Ukrainian Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko called the votes on Facebook a disgrace. “Such an assessment in no way reflects our true attitude towards you, our closest friends in Europe. Yes, the Brits were great and came second, but zero points is a shame for the Poles and the Lithuanians.” Their support for Ukraine cannot be overstated, so their gratitude cannot be high.
“You have 12 points from the Ukrainians!” Tkachenko also tweeted. “Our victory is a shared one, in the Eurovision Song Contest, just as it will be against our enemy.”
In the overall ranking of all juries, “Stefania” by Kalush Orchestra landed in fourth place, after Great Britain, Sweden and Spain. The juries from Poland and Lithuania gave the Ukrainian band the highest possible rating of twelve points.
Against the zero vote, a scandal? Singer Iryna Fedyshyn, a member of the Ukrainian jury, posted that the zero-points message was not true. No one can seriously believe that the jury did not give the Polish singer Krystian Ochman a single point. She posted her own ballot on Instagram, with 10 points for Ochman.
Will things clear up? According to the European Broadcasting Union, there were already irregularities in the recording of the jury ratings during the semi-finals. Six jury votes have now been ruled out due to suspicion of manipulation and aggregated mean values from similar voting juries have been created as substitute results. The excluded juries are those from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Montenegro, Romania, San Marino – and Poland.