The lead singer of the Ukrainian band which won the Eurovision Song Contest has condemned the “sick lottery” of Russian missiles hitting residential buildings in his war-torn country.
Oleh Psiuk was speaking as Kalush Orchestra released a dramatic video of their winning song, Stefania, set against images from several cities near Kyiv – Bucha, Irpin, Borodyanka and Hostomel.
Children are shown being carried from bombed-out buildings by women dressed in combat gear.
In one case, a woman carries a girl into a train station – in a dramatisation of a child being left with her grandparents.
It is an affecting portrayal of the sacrifices being made by mothers as they fight the Russian invaders.
In credits at the end, the band says the video is “dedicated to the brave Ukrainian people, to the mothers protecting their children, to all those who gave their lives for our freedom”.
Stefania was written by Psiuk as a tribute to his mother.
Speaking on Sunday, the singer said the video shows “what Ukraine is like today”.
He added: “This is the way we see a Ukrainian mother today. Our culture is under attack. Ukraine is our mum, ultimately, and that is why so many people have taken to (the song).”
Kalush Orchestra’s victory has given people a much-needed boost, Psiuk said.
“I think the whole of Ukraine stayed up until 3am because it was so important to us – this contest, this year,” he commented in a news conference.
“It’s been refreshing and it’s really lifted our spirits.”
Asked how he felt about performing in front of such a huge televised audience, he said it was a “huge responsibility” and thought to himself: “You have no right to screw this up.”
Speaking about the war, Psiuk said missiles are “hitting residential buildings, people’s homes”, adding: “It’s a sick lottery with all those missiles.”
The stand-off at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol is a “huge disaster that is really painful to us – people are being held hostage”, he said.
Once he has returned to Ukraine, Psiuk will go back to running a voluntary organisation that helps people with accommodation, transportation and medication.
A proper celebration of the Eurovision win will have to wait until the war is over, he said.
Asked about the other entries, he said he “personally enjoyed the UK’s performance”.
Band members also posed for photographs and signed autographs outside their hotel in Turin on Sunday.
Then they packed their luggage into taxis and headed for an interview with Italian host broadcaster RAI before travelling home on Monday.
After being given special permission to leave Ukraine to attend the competition, they now have to get back promptly.
Most Ukrainian men aged between 18 and 60 are barred from leaving in case they are needed to fight.
The band’s brief trip abroad led to a tearful moment for vocalist Sasha Tab and his family.
He had to say goodbye to his wife Yuliia and two children, who fled Ukraine a month ago and are living with a host Italian family in nearby Alba.
Yuliia wept as Tab held his daughter in his arms before getting into the cab.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has hailed Kalush Orchestra’s victory, saying he hopes Ukraine will be able to host the contest next year.
Ukraine won Eurovision after a huge show of support from the rest of the continent following Russia’s invasion of the country.