TURIN, Italy (Reuters) – Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra on Saturday made a plea for the city of Mariupol and its Azovstal plant at the end of their appearance in the Eurovision Song Contest.
“Please help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstal right now,” lead singer Oleh Psiuk shouted from the front of the stage in the Italian city of Turin after the band performed its song “Stefania”.
Russian forces have been constantly bombarding the steelworks in the southern port of Mariupol, the last bastion of hundreds of Ukrainian defenders in a city almost completely controlled by Russia after more than two months of a siege.
Kalush Orchestra are tipped to win the annual song contest, watched by an international television audience expected to approach 200 million, helped by a wave of public sympathy after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
In a video address released before the event, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he believed the Kalush Orchestra would win.
“Europe, vote for Kalush Orchestra, (song) No 12! Let’s support our fellow countrymen! Let’s support Ukraine!” he said, clenching his fist.
(Reporting by Tara Oakes in Turin and David Ljunggren; Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)