Russia reportedly target hometown of Ukraine Eurovision contestants ahead of show
The Ukrainian city of Ternopil was attacked by Russian forces yesterday (May 13), it’s been reported, just minutes before local band TVORCHI took to the stage at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
The electronic music duo – comprised of producer Andrii Hutsuliak and vocalist Jimoh Kehinde – performed their song ‘Heart Of Steel’ at this year’s contest, placing sixth in the final tally with 243 votes. Just 10 minutes before their performance went down, reports of Ternopil being bombed started to emerge. According to the BBC, the city was struck with missiles fired by Russian forces.
Volodymyr Trush, the head of Ternopil’s regional state administration, reportedly stated that two people had been injured; mayor Serhiy Nadal said warehouses in the area were also damaged.
Following their performance, TVORCHI stood onstage holding a card branded with the city’s name. In a post explaining the move on Instagram, they wrote: “Ternopil is the name of our hometown, which was bombed by Russia while we sang on the Eurovision stage about our steel hearts, indomitability and will.
“This is a message for all cities of Ukraine that are shelled every day. Kharkiv, Dnipro, Khmelnytskyi, Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia, Uman, Sumy, Poltava, Vinnytsia, Odesa, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv, Kherson and all others. Europe, unite against evil for the sake of peace! GLORY TO UKRAINE!”
‘Heart Of Steel’ is also topically relevant, as it’s said to be inspired by the Ukrainian troops that attempted to fight back against Russian forces at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol. In a tweet responding to the performance, Melinda Simmons (the UK’s ambassador to Ukraine) wrote: “The staging was brilliant. And poignant as their university home town of Ternopil was targeted by [Russian] missiles this eve.”
She later wrote in a post accompanied by a photo of herself posing with Hutsuliak and Kehinde: “Commiserations to [Ukraine]. But these guys performed minutes after their university home town had been bombed by [Russia]. You have brave hearts. That’s a win enough for anybody.”
Tvorchi 🇺🇦 def win the prize for graphics. The staging was brilliant. And poignant as their university home town of Ternopil was targeted by 🇷🇺 missiles this eve.
— Dame Melinda Simmons (@MelSimmonsFCDO) May 13, 2023
Commiserations to 🇺🇦. But these guys performed minutes after their university home town had been bombed by 🇷🇺. You have brave hearts. That’s a win enough for anybody #Eurovision pic.twitter.com/pMX3xarnhJ
— Dame Melinda Simmons (@MelSimmonsFCDO) May 14, 2023
In a post shared on Facebook, Nadal responded to TVORCHI’s onstage message: “Thank you, because your speech has become a symbol of not only the unity of the country, but of the whole world,” he wrote (as translated from Ukrainian). “Let everyone remember our defenders, volunteers, doctors, children and all civilians who were taken by Russian rockets.”
Eurovision 2023 was held in Liverpool last night, eschewing the competition’s usual format (where each iteration is held in the home country of the previous winner). Ukraine band Kalush Orchestra won last year’s event, however the Eastern European country was not permitted to host this year’s due to safety concerns.
Kalush Orchestra opened the grand final ceremony yesterday with a performance of their winning Eurovision 2022 song, ‘Stefania’. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy was barred from speaking at the event due to its “strict rules” prohibiting Eurovision from being used to platform political statements.