Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra sell Eurovision trophy for $900,000 to buy drones

Separately a collection drive for €5 million to buy a Turkish Bayraktar TB2 military drone took just three days

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The winners of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest have sold their trophy to raise money for the Ukrainian military.

Kalush Orchestra, who combine folk melodies and hip-hop, auctioned their crystal microphone on social media for $900,000 on Sunday to buy drones for the war against Russia.

The sale coincided with the band's appearance at a charity concert at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate to raise money for medical care and supplies.

The sale is the latest in a number of civilian efforts aimed at buying weapons for Ukraine. Last week, hundreds of Lithuanians chipped in together to buy an advanced military drone for the country.

Lithuanian internet broadcaster Laisves TV launched a collection drive for €5 million ($5.3m) to buy a Turkish Bayraktar TB2 military drone — a type which Ukraine already uses.

The money raised from Kalush Orchestra’s Eurovision prize will be used to buy three Ukrainian-made PD-2 drones, Ukrainian TV presenter Serhiy Prytula, who led the auction, said.

The band won Eurovision with their entry Stefania amid a wave of public support.

Afterwards, they released a new video of the hit, that includes scenes of war in Ukraine and civilian women in combat gear.

“This is how we see Ukrainian mothers today,” Kalush singer and rapper Oleh Psiuk said.

“We were trying to deliver the message of what Ukraine looks like today.”

Within 20 hours, the video had been viewed six million times.

The Lithuanian target was raised in three and a half days, with donations mostly ranging between €5 and €100.

Agne Belickaite, who gave €100 to the campaign, said she had never thought of buying guns before the war but that it had become “a normal thing now”.

“Something must be done for the world to get better,” Ms Belickaite said.

“I've been donating to buy guns for Ukraine for a while now — and will do so until the victory.”

Ms Belickaite said she was partly motivated by fears of a Russian attack on Lithuania.

Updated: May 30, 2022, 10:20 AM