Ukrainians are celebrating a great victory: Ukrainian singer, songwriter and actor Jamala has won the giant Eurovision Song Contest 2016 with a song conjuring Stalin’s expulsion of the Crimean Tatars in 1944.
Some 200 million viewers tuned into the hugely popular TV show last year, and the final tally for this year’s numbers is expected to be much larger, since the show was broadcast for the first time in the U.S. The votes of TV viewers tipped the scales for Jamala after the juries from member countries favored the Australian entrant. (U.S. fans were observers only, not voters.)
Of Crimean Tatar ancestry herself, Jamala has not been home to Crimea since the Russian annexation in 2014. The lyrics to her song, 1944, are a lament against exile, and touched the hearts of listeners the world over.
The refrain, sung in the Crimean Tatar language, goes
I couldn’t spend my youth there
Because you took away my peace
As she accepted her trophy, Jamala called for “peace and love” around the world.
The winner’s country has the honor (and bears the cost) of hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in 2017, and Kiev is gearing up to propose its Olimpiyskiy Stadium as the venue.
Here’s a video of Jamala’s performance. Note: We’ve found that those in the U.S. are only able to watch this once, thanks to the country settings on the video.
Top photo: Ukrainian pride is displayed everywhere in Kiev. Photo credit: Jered Gorman
PUBLISHED: May 17, 2016