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Sweden celebrates Eurovision victory; Ukrainian duo revolt after Russian attack on residence


LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Liverpool cleared out of the Eurovision Song Contest on Sunday, as Sweden celebrated victory and Ukraine remained defiant after a night of Russian bombing, including an attack on the hometown of the country’s competitors.

Electronic duo Tvorchi represented Ukraine in the spectacular pan-continental pop competition sixth out of 26 finalists on Saturday night with ‘Heart of Steel’, a hymn to the country’s resilience, inspired by the siege of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

Air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine as the match went on in Liverpool, and the Ukrainian military said a barrage of Russian drones and missile strikes had left dozens injured. One attack hit Ternopil, the home city of Tvorchi in western Ukraine.

Ternopil was attacked again on Sunday morning, the Ukrainian emergency service said. Civilian buildings and cars were damaged; there was no immediate information about the casualties.

“Ternopil is the name of our hometown, which was bombed by Russia as we sang on the Eurovision stage about our hearts of steel, intransigence and will,” the duo of Andrii Hutsuliak and Jeffery Kenny posted on Instagram on Saturday night.

“This is a message to all cities in Ukraine that are shelled every day. Kharkiv, Dnipro, Khmelnytskyi, Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia, Uman, Sumy, Poltava, Vinnytsia, Odessa, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv, Kherson and all others. Europe, unite against evil for the sake of peace! HONOR TO UKRAINE!”

Russia, a long-time participant in the Eurovision Song Contest, was banned from the contest last year due to its invasion of Ukraine.

Swedish singer Loreen won the match with her power ballad ‘Tattoo’ during a colorful, eclectic music competition for the second year clouded by the war in Europe. Great Britain organized the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of Ukrainewhich won last year but was unable to exercise its right to hold the contest because of the war.

The sights and sounds of Ukraine ran through the show, starting with an opening cinematic featuring the winners of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 Kalush Orchestra sing and dance in the Kiev subway, with the tune picked up by musicians in the UK – including Kate, Princess of Wales, playing the piano.

The folk-rap band themselves then appeared on stage at the Liverpool Arena on a giant pair of outstretched hands, accompanied by massive drummers. It was one of several Ukrainian acts to perform during the nearly four-hour show.

Now in its 67th year, Eurovision bills itself as the world’s biggest music competition – an olympiad of party-friendly pop. Contestants have three minutes each to fuse catchy tunes and dazzling spectacle into performances that can win the hearts of millions of viewers.

Loreen’s anthem of intense love was a favorite with the bookies. She faced a strong challenge from Finnish singer Käärijä, a hugely energetic performer whose rap-pop party song “Cha Cha Cha” placed second.

Loreen, 39. who previously won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012, said she was “severely blown away” as she became only the second person to win the crown twice. Johnny Logan from Ireland was the first double winner, in the 1980s. Sweden’s victory is the country’s seventh and equals Ireland’s record.

The win entitles Sweden to host next year, the 50th anniversary of Sweden’s first Eurovision triumph — ABBA’s 1974 victory with ‘Waterloo’.

The competition came down to a heart-pounding finale between Loreen, who won the jury vote of music professionals across Europe, and Käärijä, who was the big winner in the voting by the viewing public.

The Finn admitted that he was disappointed.

“Of course, to be honest, it feels bad. What I was looking for was a win,” Käärijä told Finnish media in Liverpool. “Of course you should be proud of this achievement. A cool performance with a Finnish song. I have a slightly sad feeling. But life goes on. It’s not that serious. You have to get on with life.”

Käärijä was the undisputed star of the Eurovision Song Contest and the poignant chorus of “Cha Cha Cha” is likely to be heard on dance floors across Europe this summer.

Mae Muller, who represents hosts Great Britain, came second to last – a difference from 2022, when Britain’s Sam Ryder finished second behind Ukraine.

Liverpool, who won a competition between British cities to host the event, embraced both the Eurovision Song Contest and Ukraine with open arms and hearts. Businesses across the city waved Ukrainian flags and a program of cultural events introduced locals to the Eastern European country’s art, music and food.

However, organizers said they rejected a request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to give a video address. The European Broadcasting Union said this would go against “the non-political nature of the event”.


Associated Press writer Jari Tanner in Helsinki contributed to this story.


For more AP coverage of Eurovision, visit

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.