Music

Eurovision winners enjoy heros welcome in Ukraine as they continue Russia fight

Eurovision Song Contest 2022 winners Kalush Orchestra returned to their homeland Ukraine following an emotional victory.

Hundreds of fans greeted the Ukrainian band at the border with Poland as Russia’s occupancy of the country continues.

Lead-singer Oleh Psiuk, 28, was gifted with a bouquet of yellow and blue flowers in tribute to the colours of Ukraine’s flag.

He said at a news conference on Sunday (May 15) that the musicians were “ready to fight” when they returned home.

As they stepped onto Ukrainian soil, the band then launched into an impromptu version of their winning song Stefania which raised morale for those in the region.

On Saturday (May 14), the six-piece band won the contest in Turin, Italy, finishing with an incredible 631 points.

At the end of the performance, Oleh made a plea for help for the besieged city of Mariupol.

“Please help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstal right now,” he shouted from the front of the stage.

Following their successful weekend, the band made up of five men – who were given special permission to leave the country to attend the competition – were ordered to return home to their war-torn nation.

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Under Ukrainian law, all men aged 18-60 are banned from leaving the country and urged to join the army or support the war effort.

Frontman Oleh told Rolling Stone the story of how he was called up to fight Russian invaders only two days after his band were chosen to represent Ukraine.

He explained: “OK, first you have to sign this form saying the Ukrainian armed forces are not responsible if you get killed here.

“Then you should go upstairs because our Eurovision entrants are about to hold a press conference. It should be interesting – it’s a really good song!”

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky vowed that his country would host the competition next year.

He said: “Ukraine will be hosting Eurovision next year. For the third time in its history, and I trust not for the last time.

“We will do our best so that Ukraine’s Mariupol, a liberated, peaceful city that has been rebuilt will host guests and participants of Eurovision one day.”

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