The Eurovision Song Contest is not the talk of the town in Kiev. That, of course, is the war. And the everyday problems that war brings. Something that is very important now is: how do I get petrol or diesel for my car?
But if you ask, most people at least know that tonight is the final with Ukraine as the obvious winner. Not necessarily because it’s a great song: “It’s not bad,” says a woman in the street. But because of the war, “It’s political.”
Timur Mirosjnychenko presents the Ukrainian TV broadcast of the Song Contest tonight from a bomb shelter. Since the attack on the Kiev radio tower on March 1, which left five people dead, television has been working underground. “But it’s nice that it can all continue as usual. The Ukrainian army made this possible,” he says. “That is a ray of hope in this time. The Russians can take our spring away from us, but not our hopes, our hearts, our love for music and the Song Contest.”
The song festival is popular in Ukraine. In the semifinals, Mirosjnychenko and his colleagues received thousands of thanks for continuing to do their job. “I know people in the bomb shelters have been watching the semi-finals on their phones or listening to their radios. It’s like a memory of another time, a time when our lives were still normal, and I think that’s very important to all of us.”
For him it is not a foregone conclusion that Kalush Orchestra, the Ukrainian participant, is going to win. “I have yet to see that. There are some other very good songs. For example from Great Britain, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, but of course we could get some extra votes as a sign of support. And if we win, then That would be a very symbolic event, a first victory before the big win we all long for.”
That has to be done tonight. So Mirosjnychenko is in his bomb shelter and the people who want to follow it on television do so at home, because there is still a curfew. You have to be in by 10 pm and most cafes and restaurants are even closed at 8 pm to ensure that guests and staff can get home on time.