Ukrainian folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra, who won the Eurovision Song Contest earlier this month, sold the trophy for $900,000 to buy drones for Ukraine to use in defense against the ongoing Russian invasion.
The group held an auction on Facebook hosted by Ukrainian TV presenter Serhiy Prytula where they offered the crystal microphone trophy to raise funds for Ukraine’s military efforts. The award was purchased by cryptocurrency exchange Whitebit, and Prytula announced the nearly $1 million will be used to buy three Ukraine-made PD-2 drones, according to Reuters.
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Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Stefania” after almost not qualifying for the competition. As CNN noted, “Kalush Orchestra initially finished second in Ukraine’s qualifying competitions but was elevated after it emerged that the winner had previously traveled to Russian-annexed Crimea. The group was unveiled as the country’s entry on February 22nd, two days before Russian troops invaded Ukraine.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky celebrated the group’s victory in a post on social media, writing, “Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” He also expressed excitement at the prospect of hosting the annual concert in Ukraine next year, as the winning country typically does. “Next year Ukraine will host Eurovision! For the third time in its history,” he said. “And, I believe, not the last. We will do our best to one day host the participants and guests of Eurovision in Ukrainian Mariupol. Free, peaceful, rebuilt!”
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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has claimed thousands of civilian lives over the past four months. Moscow has justified the assault claiming the purpose is to protect Ukraine from fascist influence, but Ukraine and the West say the fascist allegation is unfounded and the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.
Ukrainian forces faced heavy artillery barrages over the weekend as they defended Sievierodonetsk, the largest city in the eastern region of Luhansk still under Ukrainian control.