Kalush Orchestra poses with their trophy after winning the Eurovision Song Contest 2022. (AFP via Getty/ MARCO BERTORELLO)
Eurovision Song Contest winners Kalush Orchestra have raised $900,000 (£713,000) for the Ukrainian military by auctioning their trophy.
The historic moment when the group won Eurovision with their entry “Stefania” was emotional for viewers around the world. Kalush Orchestra scored 631 points, most of which came from the public vote in a stunning show of solidarity from Europe after Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine in February.
Now the group has made their victory even more impactful.
On Sunday, the rap and folk band’s crystal microphone trophy was auctioned via Facebook by Ukrainian TV presenter Serhiy Prytula.
During the auction, Prytula announced that the money raised would go towards a PD-2 unmanned aerial drone system, comprising three aircraft and a ground control station, for the Ukrainian military.
The leader of the Kalush Orchestra, Oleg Psyuk, also sold her now legendary pink bob in a draw.
Hey, Europe! You helped Ukraine get the @Eurovision victory.
And now you can help us win the great victory over the Russian occupiers! #KalushOrchestra the pink hat can be yours for only €5! All donations go to support the army 🇺🇦!
To participate in the raffle, make a donation here
— Serhiy Prytula (@serhiyprytula) May 25, 2022
As the war in Ukraine rages on, months after the Russian invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saw the Eurovision victory as a sign of hope.
After the competition, he said in a Telegram post that he had no doubt that the country’s capital, Mauripol, would be ready to host Eurovision next year, as a “free, peaceful and rebuilt” city.
He added: “Thank you for winning, Kalush Orchestra and everyone who voted for us. I’m sure our victorious deal in the battle with the enemy is not far away. Glory to Ukraine!”
In recent days, the Ukrainian army has fought hard to repel Russian efforts to capture the city of Sievierodonetsk, coming under heavy enemy artillery assault.
Russia still describes the assault as a “special military operation”, intended to “protect” Ukraine from fascism.
Latest UN figures suggest more than 4,000 civilians have been killed since Russia first invaded Ukraine. This figure includes 261 children.