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Ukraine still on track to win Eurovision – as commentator broadcasts from bomb shelter

Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra have been voted through to the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest.

It means the band have solidified their position as favourites in the competition.

Others countries which also progressed from the first semi-final to Saturday’s final were Switzerland, Armenia, Iceland, Lithuania, Portugal, Norway, Greece, Moldova and the Netherlands.

The UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and France – known as the Big Five – were already through automatically to this weekend’s showpiece event.

But the Eurovision journey has ended this year for acts from Albania, Latvia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark and Austria.

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Ukraine’s folk-rap track Stefania has been described by the group as a tribute to the singer’s mother, but have since dedicated it to all the country’s matriarchs in the wake of Russia’s invasion which began in February.

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It comes as the Ukrainian TV commentator for the contest, Timur Miroshnychenko, has been broadcasting from a bomb shelter.

In the build-up to the competition in Turin, the band grabbed headlines when they posted videos of themselves on the streets of Kyiv with weapons as part of the Ukraine’s defence against the Russian offensive.

Ukraine's Eurovision commentator Timur Miroshnychenko
Image:
Ukraine’s Eurovision commentator Timur Miroshnychenko broadcast from a bomb shelter

The group had to get special permission from the government to travel to Italy, after it required most men to stay in the country to fight.

The group’s lead singer Oleg Psyuk told Sky News in the run-up to the contest that he is focused on winning.

“I think that the victory is important,” he said.

“It would be important for every Ukrainian and it would be a merit for every Ukrainian at the moment, because any kind of victory in any aspect is very important for Ukrainians – especially in this time.

“It would lift the spirit of our people.”

Psyuk also revealed that one band member is missing from its delegation to Turin, instead deciding to stay back in Ukraine to help defend the streets of Kyiv.

The second semi-final will take place on Thursday where the remaining 18 countries will take to the stage in the hope of being voted through.

Then the focus will move on to Saturday’s final, with Kalush Orchestra in pole position to win in Italy.

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Could Ukraine win Eurovision 2022?

The UK is hot on their heels though, with 32-year-old TikTok star Sam Ryder among the other leading contenders with the bookies to win.

He co-wrote his uplifting pop song Space Man with Grammy-winning songwriter Amy Wadge, who has previously worked with Ed Sheeran and Max Wolfgang.

Ryder found fame covering songs on TikTok during lockdown, amassing 12 million followers and catching the attention of global stars including Justin Bieber and Alicia Keys.

The competition’s producers previously announced that Russia will no longer participate in this year’s contest following Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

The contest continues on Thursday with the second semi-final (8pm on BBC Three), with the main event on Saturday (8pm on BBC One).

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