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Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest in a clear show of support for the war-ravaged nation.
Frontman Oleg Psiuk took advantage of the enormous global audience to make an impassioned plea to free fighters still trapped beneath the sprawling Azovstal steel plant in the southern port city of Mariupol, after the six-man band’s performance.
“I ask all of you, please help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstal, right now,” he said to the live crowd of about 7,500, many of whom gave a standing ovation, and a global television audience of millions.
The plea to free the remaining Ukrainian fighters trapped beneath the Azovstal plant by Russians served as a sombre reminder that the hugely popular and at times flamboyant Eurovision song contest was being played out against the backdrop of a war on Europe’s eastern flank.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave signs that he was watching from Kyiv, and rooting for the Ukrainian band.
“Indeed, this is not a war, but nevertheless, for us today, any victory is very important,” Zelenskyy said, according to a .presidential statement. “So, let’s cheer for ours. Glory be to Ukraine!”