On stage, Oleh Psiuk, the lead singer of the Kalush Orchestra, made an impassioned plea to the free fighters still trapped at the Azovstal Steel Works in Mariupol, asking for more help from the West as he and his five bandmates participated in the 66th Eurovision edition performed in Turin, Italy. The morning after, shocking images emerged showing the artist’s words scrawled on aerial bombs.
The messages were written on the OFAB 250-270 bombs, high-explosive fragmentation devices designed to destroy military-industrial facilities, armored vehicles and large groups of fighters.
Mr. Psiuk shouted from the stage: “I beg you all, help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstal, now.”
The mocking note, which appeared on Sunday, read: “Exactly as you requested Kalusha! For Azovstal.
“#Eurovision2022. I heard the call to screw up Azov. Help Mariupol. Help Mariupol immediately.”
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The images were posted to Telegram by pro-Kremlin broadcaster FighterBomber just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pledged to hold next year’s Eurovision in Mariupol.
He hailed the victory, the country’s third since its Eurovision debut in 2003, and said “we will do our best” to one day host the competition in a “free, peaceful, rebuilt” Mariupol.
He added: “I am sure that our victorious string is not far away in battle with the enemy.”
Since the invasion began on February 24, Mariupol has been bombed almost continuously.
Up to 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers held out in the Azovstal steelworks, the last stronghold of the besieged city.
According to Mariupol Mayor’s Advisor Petr Andryushchenko, sources among those remaining in the ruins of the plant believe a vote is underway on the port city’s future.
He said Moscow was preparing to hold a referendum on whether the city would join Russia after a similar poll was announced in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia.
He told the Observer on Saturday: “We have some information that the Russian authorities are preparing a referendum and might even call it tomorrow, but we don’t yet know if that is the case.
“But we see a strong integration of Mariupol into the Russian system, the education system, the banking system.”
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Mr Andryushchenko called those responsible for the cruel words on the Russian bombs “inhuman”.
The exiled official said on his Telegram channel: “This is the Russian military’s reaction to our victory in the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest… In Russia, losses will be followed by a century of regrets.
“They’re just inhuman… they’ve lost everything remotely resembling humanism and humanity.”
The Kalush Orchestra’s song “Stefania” mixes rap with elements of Ukrainian folk music.
His lyrics include lines like “I’ll always find my way home, even if all the roads are destroyed”.
Originally written in honor of the mothers of the group, they later dedicated it to all matriarchs in Ukraine.
The six band members needed special permits to leave Ukraine during the war.
Facing a Eurovision edition with a more than usual political component, the European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the competition, spoke out in support of Ukraine and defended its use of the stage to make a statement.
It said: “We understand the deep feelings surrounding Ukraine at this moment and believe that the comments by the Kalush Orchestra and other artists expressing their support for the Ukrainian people are more humanitarian than political.”