Ukraine scores second Eurovision Song Contest win

Ukraine singer Jamala scooped her country's second win in the Eurovision Song Contest early Sunday with a song about the horrors of conflict, edging out entries from Australia and Russia.

Her mournful lament, titled 1944, has generated heated reactions with its reference to the year that Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin ordered the mass deportation of ethnic minority Tartars from Crimea to Central Asia.

"If you sing about truth, it really can touch people," she told reporters after her win.

The 32-year-old, whose real name is Susana Jamaladynova and is a Tartar herself, said the song that she composed herself was inspired by her own great-grandmother's fate.

It opens with the words "When strangers are coming ... They come to your house, They kill you all and say, We're not guilty not guilty."

Jamala said she would have wished that "all these terrible things did not happen and that this song did not exist."

Russia annexed of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014 and has supported pro-Moscow separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Immediately after being declared winner with 534 points, Jamala said she wanted "peace and love to everyone."

The victory, which came after midnight in Stockholm, was a second for Ukraine, which first won in 2004.

"You created a moment for Europe today. It was something that resonated a long way," said Jon Ola Sand of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which runs the event.

As winner, Ukraine is set to host the event next year.

Sand, EBU executive supervisor of Eurovision, touched on the conflict in Ukraine, saying it was key to "make sure that every delegation, every journalist, every fan that would like to travel to Ukraine can travel safely, stay there safely."

Australia, represented by female singer Dami Im, garnered 511 points. Dami Im's strong vocal performance won her the vote among the 42 national juries.

Russia's Sergey Lazarev, considered one of the favourites to win, finished third on 491 points, despite wining the viewers' vote. He used a dazzling, high-tech LED wall on stage for his entry You Are The Only One.

The show at Stockholm's Globe arena opened with all 26 acts walking on stage as their national flags were displayed on the LED wall.

The EBU said Australia's inclusion in the contest for the second time is in recognition of a strong fan base and a 30-year history of broadcasting the glitzy competition, which is Europe's largest television event.

Entries from France, Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain automatically qualified for the final as major funders of the EBU, and host Sweden secured a direct spot after winning the contest last year through Mans Zelmerlow.

Sweden, this year represented by 17-year-old singer Frans, finished in fifth place behind Bulgaria's female singer Poli Genova.

Zelmerlow co-hosted Saturday's show with comedian Petra Mede.

Twenty other entries qualified during two semi-finals this week. In all, 42 countries were entered.

Germany finished last for the second year in a row.

The show featured an interval performance by US pop star Justin Timberlake who told the contestants "You all should be very proud."

The show was broadcast to an estimated 200 million viewers across Europe, China and the United States.

Points were awarded by 42 national juries and voting by viewers. The show's rules prevent voters from supporting their own country's entry.

This year, the votes were split and announced in two parts, beginning with the result of the jury vote, which had Australia in the lead.

The televoting points - where viewers vote by calling a designated number, sending a text or using a dedicated app - were combined and provided as one score for the top 10 entries that the show hosts announced.

The EBU posted a detailed breakdown of the votes on its web site.

Each entry could win a maximum of 24 points - 12 from the jury and 12 from viewers.

Saturday's show was the 61st edition of the contest, which has seen the likes of ABBA and Celine Dion launch their international careers.

Last update: Sun, 15/05/2016 - 11:53
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