They embrace, get excited and sing the national anthem in the shadow of the war their country is plunged into. So a group of Ukrainians celebrated the victory at Eurovision in a student apartment in Kyiv. “Help Ukraine, help Mariupol, help Azovstal!” As soon as rapper Oleg Psyuk launches a triple scream from the stage at the end of his performance, passion breaks out. Those present, a dozen young people, wave the flag of the country, raise their hands and tear applause from their throats. This is the prologue to the ultimate celebration achieved through a popular vote. The images projected three meters through the wall of the room make them look almost real in Turin.
A student apartment, elevated to the rank of a commune because it sometimes accommodates up to 15 people, is a good place to watch the Eurovision Song Contest when there are practically no alternatives. What remedy. There are no bars or joints to ruin the brown. Eurofans have to be content with the fact that they follow the performances behind the scenes.
Martial law, which is in force during this wartime, keeps the capital under curfew from 10:00 pm, when broadcasts in Ukraine begin, until 5:00 am. In parallel with this, the dry law was partially abolished, and the sale of alcohol was prohibited only after four in the afternoon. In fact, drinking during these weeks in Ukraine has never been difficult. Even in the weeks when the castle was permanent.
There is no shortage of drinks on the floor on Eurovision night, but the emptiness of the five tenants who are enlisted and dressed in uniform these days is noticeable. Three of them are enrolled in the ranks of the National Guard, two more – in the Territorial Defense Corps. His associates say that some of them are firing on the Kharkov front or in the Donbas region, in the east of the country.
“I’m not a big fan of this competition and this type of music, but this time I feel extremely patriotic. This song has many reasons that make me cry,” explains 29-year-old Lesya. “At first I thought it was a very local topic – from the west of the country, where she is from, like the singer – but now I think that she unites us all.” Next to her is the unbridled hope of Denis, a 20-year-old graphic designer; Tim, 20, political science student; Laurenti, an 18-year-old fine arts student… and a group of colleagues who cheer and cheer every time their flag or one of their group members appears on the screen.
Some restaurants and entertainment venues have reopened in recent weeks after fighting in the capital ceased. But when the hip-hop members of the Kalush Orchestra take the stage, the streets remain more than deserted. The intense nightlife of this city remains sluggish. “Since the liberation of Kyiv, the situation has become less tense. We are no longer as scared as in February or March, but, of course, the war is not over yet,” adds Lesya.
“What if we win today?” one young man asks. “I don’t think there will be celebrations outside,” he answers himself. Leaving outside the permitted hours may cost you detention. The stove is not for buns, although explosions are no longer heard in Kyiv. Eurovision? “I don’t want to hear that word,” replies an irate Ukrainian reporter who has covered the event twice in recent years. He believes that winning the festival, as predicted, is not a necessary shock under the current circumstances.
The composition of the Kalush Orchestra after declaring themselves the winners of Eurovision 2022.YARA NARDI (REUTERS)
Stefanía, a song with a touch of folk, which the rapper and lead singer of the group Oleg Psyuk dedicated to his mother, sounds at full speed, dancing in an orderly manner in the hall. Even then, in the middle of performances, the atmosphere was heating up. The song was written a few months ago, but the military boom forced the Ukrainians to rethink the lyrics. They made it a little more their own in the shadow of the war-wounded mother country, which also left Russia out of competition. This is what Lesya refers to, softened by circumstances, when she explains her feelings this year with Eurovision, which usually brings her freshness.
The Kalush Orchestra returned to the competition after national competition winner Alina Pash, the more popular, withdrew due to a controversial 2015 trip to Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula illegally occupied by Russia since 2014. because the polls gave them fifth place. Early on the morning of February 24, when the order to invade was issued from the Kremlin, a favorable wind of international solidarity lifted them to the forefront.
Shouting “Help Ukraine, help Mariupol, help Azovstal!” Psyuk raised the voice of Ukrainians to almost 200 million viewers. He named not only his own country, but also Mariupol, the city of resistance to the Russian siege, and the Azovstal plant, where hundreds of combatants have been locked up for weeks. They dedicate the victory to them and of course to their roommates who are on the front lines these days. The night lengthens between songs from the balcony… which is not prevented by the curfew.
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