Risked deliberately breaking the rules: ‘It was a price I was willing to pay’

When Ukrainian rapper Oleg Psyuk took the floor in the middle of the Eurovision stage on Saturday night, shouting a brief message to the audience, he was aware that he could risk being disqualified for it.

But it was a price he was willing to pay.

He says this on Sunday night at a press conference, after he and the rest of his band, the Kalush Orchestra, have been named the winners of this year’s Eurovision.

A few hours before, he caused a stir when he took the floor after the band had performed during the finale with their song, ‘Stefania’:


Kalush Orchestra after their victory.

Kalush Orchestra after their victory.
Photo: YARA NARDI

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“Help Mariupol, help Azovstal – right now,” was his call from the stage, referring to the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, the Russian-besieged port city in southern Ukraine, while Azovstal is a giant steelworks located in the city where there are still Ukrainian entities hidden.

Usually, it is strictly forbidden to come up with political messages from the Eurovision stage.

Still, he took the chance – and there is a definite reason for that, explains Oleg Psyuk:

“You have to understand what great sorrow Ukraine is experiencing these days to understand why it was said,” he said, adding:

“If the price for it was disqualification, then it was a price I was willing to pay to raise awareness about it.”

At the press conference, he also explained that he chose to say exactly those words because the steelworks has been blocked by Russian forces so that the Ukrainian people in there can not get out:

“We need help getting them out. This can be done by spreading information about them. If you write about it, the information will be spread, “he explained, among other things.

However, the statement on stage is not something that the EBU wants to make a case out of.

The Norwegian media VG has reached out to the organizers of the music competition to hear their views on Oleg Psyuk’s appeal, to which the EBU responds:

“We understand the deep feelings surrounding Ukraine at the moment and consider the comments of the Kalush Orchestra and other artists who express support for the Ukrainian people as humanitarian rather than political in nature.”

It is therefore not something that is going to change anything about Ukraine’s victory.

However, it is not long before Oleg Psyuk and the rest of the band members get to celebrate the triumph.

For in two days, the special permit that has allowed them to leave Ukraine to participate in the singing competition expires, as otherwise it has been forbidden for men between 18 and 60 years to travel out of the country.

“It will expire in two days, and in exactly two days we will be back,” says the Ukrainian rapper.

“It’s hard to say what’s going to happen next, as I have not tried to win a Eurovision before, but like all Ukrainians, we are ready to fight and to fight to the end,” he said.

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