Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra has won the Eurovision Song Contest for the third time after receiving the bulk of votes in the public vote.
The UK’s Sam Ryder was in the lead following the announcement of the jury vote, but Ukraine quickly took over when the public had their say.
The war-torn country stormed into the lead at the last minute, with Kalush Orchestra’s “Stefania” beating out stiff competition from the UK, Sweden, Spain and other countries.
There were emotional scenes in the stadium in Turin when Ukraine was announced as winner of the contest, with other acts waving Ukrainian flags to show their support for the war-torn country.
Ukraine finished with more than 600 points, most of which came from the public vote. The folk-rap group’s song was written about lead singer Oleg Psyuk’s mother, but it took on a new significance after Russia invaded the country in February.
Speaking to TIME magazine ahead of the contest, Kalush Orchestra frontman Oleh Psiuk said: “After the war, a lot of people seem to be finding new meanings there.”
He continued: “The enemy is trying to destroy our culture. But we are here to prove that we still exist, that we deserve to be seen. We deserve to be known. We’re asking for help to protect our culture.”
Ukraine’s entry received a rapturous response earlier in the evening when they took to the stage – the Eurovision audience in Turin, Italy, gave them a standing ovation, while many could be seen waving Ukrainian flags.
The country had been the bookies’ favourite to win ahead of the contest. Eurovision pundits had expected that Ukraine would emerge victorious, with much of Europe – and the world – throwing their weight behind the country following Russia’s barbaric invasion and war, which kicked off in February.
This is a breaking story – more to follow.