Ukraine was crowned winner of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday.
The competition tweeted the winner.
The Ukrainian group benefited from a last-minute wave of 439 votes from viewers who put it in the lead.
“Stefania” by Ukrainian band winner Kalush Orchestra was written as a tribute to the singer’s mother, but became an anthem for the war-torn country.
“Indeed, some things here were written long before the war, and they were dedicated to my mother,” leader Oleh Psiuk told The Associated Press.
“After it all started with the war and the hostilities, it took on additional meaning, and a lot of people started to see it as their mother, Ukraine, in the sense of the country,” he continued. “It has become very close to the hearts of so many people in Ukraine.”
Artists from other countries who finished in the Top Five of the annual competition were: United Kingdom: Sam Ryder –Astronaut; Spain: Chanel – SloMo; Sweden: Cornelia Jakobs – Hold Me Closer; and Serbia: Konstrakta – In Corpore Sano.
Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy celebrated the victory in a statement on Telegram.
“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he said, according to a translation from NBC News. “Next year, Ukraine will host Eurovision!”
He said it would be the third time the country has hosted the competition. Zelenskyy vowed to one day host the event in the war-torn city of Mariupol.
“We will do our best to welcome Eurovision participants and guests to Ukrainian Mariupol one day,” he said. “Free, peaceful, rebuilt!”
He thanked the Kalush Orchestra for representing the country and emerging at the top.
“I am sure that our victorious agreement in the battle with the enemy is not far away,” Zelenskyy said.
Eurovision said in a statement on Saturday that its separate jury voting process may have been subject to an “irregular” ballot.
As a result, he said, he replaced the jury votes with an overall calculation for the final semi-final and the final. “The EBU takes any alleged attempt to manipulate the Eurovision Song Contest vote very seriously and has the right to suppress such votes,” the European Eurovision Broadcasting Union said.
The long-running singing competition features artists representing every European country and some non-European countries like Australia.
The contest’s Ukrainian commentator, Timur Miroshnychenko, did his job from an air-raid shelter.
“This year, I think it’s more symbolic than ever because, of course, because on February 24, none of us were thinking about Eurovision or stuff like that,” he said. declared before Saturday’s announcement of the winner.
In February, the European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the contest, said Russia would be allowed to participate despite the country’s attack on Ukraine. However, less than 24 hours later, organizers backtracked and said no Russian acts would be part of the show.
“The decision reflects concerns that, in light of the unprecedented crisis in Ukraine, the inclusion of a Russian entry in this year’s competition will bring the competition into disrepute,” a statement read.
Denis Romero contributed.