Eurovision 2023: 'Maybe we'll forget the Ukraine war for two hours'

·3 min read
The members of Kalush Orchestra standing on a stage, celebrating while holding the Ukrainian flag
Kalush Orchestra won Eurovision for Ukraine last year

Eurovision in Liverpool is a jubilant celebration, but in Ukraine - the country the competition was meant to be held in - the mood is very different.

The city has taken on hosting duties on Ukraine's behalf because of the Russian invasion.

And while there have already been joyous scenes at the fan zone alongside the River Mersey, the picture in Ukraine this weekend will be worlds apart.

Marina Grebinna is a visual effects artist living in Kyiv and she's been waking up at 05:00 this week due to explosions.

Similarly to the UK, she says people usually gather to watch Eurovision together outside.

"Normally in Kyiv there are big screens outside where you can see and more in the bars and restaurants," she tells Newsbeat.

"But this time we have curfews so we're not able to be outside after 12pm."

Marina Grebinna smiling
Marina is going to watch Eurovision with her friends in Kyiv

But Marina says the war isn't going to stop her and her friends from watching Eurovision.

"It doesn't mean that we're not going to see it, we will continue living our lives," she says.

"And we're going to get together with my friends and watch it despite all of the circumstances.

"It's just not the same as before."

'The power of music'

Marina says she is glad the UK is able to enjoy the contest, despite the fact it means her home country missing out, having won the contest for a third time.

"We've already had Eurovision here twice. And it was a really big celebration of the music and everything," she says.

"It doesn't feel so good because living every day in the state of war and having this competition somewhere outside Ukraine, it's not the same.

"I'm really happy for the people of Great Britain that you'll be able to have this party of Eurovision and we really appreciate that your country is helping us to manage all of this.

"But for people here who are inside Ukraine, there's not that much celebrating this year."

Denis Stoff, performing on stage with a guitar in 2018
Denis Stoff hopes the contest will give Ukrainians something positive to think about

Ukrainian musician Denis Stoff, who was the lead singer of British rock group Asking Alexandria in 2015, also lives in Kyiv.

He says he plans to watch Eurovision at home "if we're not getting bombed".

"The power of music [has] always manifested good things," he says.

"I'm happy that we won last year and I'm happy that the UK's hosting Eurovision this year, so I'm sure it's going be amazing."

Eurovision 2023 banner
Eurovision 2023 banner

Denis says the contest will "spark up a lot of good emotions for people and also for a lot of Ukrainians".

"Because they're going to be watching it and they'll forget about the war, maybe just maybe for a couple of hours," he says.

"And we'll be able to enjoy the night and watch something decent."

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