Europe

Eurovision Song Contest: Ukraine and Russia stunned by Jamala win

Jamala Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ukraine has been crowned the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 after singer Jamala received 511 points.

Russian and Ukrainian media have reacted with astonishment - and a mixture of delight and dismay - to Ukrainian contestant Jamala's victory in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Many Ukrainian commentators see it as a blow for the rights of Crimean Tatars like Jamala, while Russian social media is full of denunciations of a "politicised" result.

'Historic morning'

In a poignant coincidence given that Stalin's deportation of the Crimean Tatars was the topic of Jamala's song, Sunday marks Ukraine's annual official commemoration of the victims of Soviet-era political repression.

News coverage is more solemn and briefer than one might otherwise expect, although 5 Kanal news channel greeted viewers with "Good morning! This is an historic morning for Ukraine. Eurovision is ours again, thanks to Jamala".

The popular Segodnya daily dubs the "dramatic final moments" a "battle" between Australia, Russia and Ukraine.

Zerkalo Nedeli weekly, like many other news sites, registers the maximum points that voters in Ukraine gave Russia's Sergey Lazarev, "despite Russian aggression in the Donbass and annexation of Crimea".

The pro-Russian Kiev daily Vesti sees it as a positive sign that Russian televoters also gave Ukraine's entry high marks.

The zn.ua website is not alone in highlighting the British Guardian newspaper's front-page picture of Jamala yesterday. It praises the paper for saying her song deals with "both the deportation of the Tatars and the current situation in Crimea".

And the Ukrayinska Pravda news site headlines its story with Jamala's own remarks on the deportations: "I would rather the horror had never taken place, and that this song had not been written. That would have been best".

'Putin's first defeat'

Ukrainian social media users from the president down congratulate Jamala on her win, while many pause to consider the Crimean dimension.

Rock star Svyatoslav Vakarchuk is delighted that Jamala won on his birthday - "the best present I could have".

MP and journalist Mustafa Nayyem says Europe gave "Ukraine victory in the fairest and most elegant way, by depriving the Russians of hope at the last moment, in a calm and cool manner - the same Russians who took away the motherland of this daughter of the Crimean Tatar people".

Some like journalist Andre Alexin joke that "now is the time to invade Crimea", and historian Volodymyr Viatrovych hopes that Ukraine will stage Eurovision-2017 in the Crimean city of Sebastopol, urging the "Ukrainian armed forces and Nato to start preparing for the festival now".

Crimean Tatars in exile are overjoyed with Jamala's win. Activist Lenur Islyamov sees it in a European context as the "first defeat for Putin, and a crushing one".

One dissenting voice is Ruslan Baalbek, the deputy prime minister of the pro-Russian government in Crimea. He accuses Ukraine of persuading Europe that a Russian win would be a "disaster", so that "Russian citizenship now blocks the path to first place". He says all Crimean Tatars would have celebrated Jamala's win "if her song hadn't had political overtones".

'Budget hole'

Some bloggers worry that hosting Eurovision again will put a further strain on Ukraine's finances, and encourage corruption.

"Hurrah! Jamala just won us a hole in the state budget!" writes the author of the Khuliya Tetushko blog, and Sergey Naumovich congratulates Kiev city administration on winning the chance to "distribute the investments".

The News24 TV channel dismisses another major concern - security - about Ukraine hosting Eurovision-2017, saying "it doesn't matter where next year's Eurovision will be held, in Lviv, Odessa or Kiev. Wherever it is, we will extend our warmest welcome to Europe".

'Lazarev our winner'

Pro-Kremlin television channels in Russia all insist they were robbed of victory by the new system of combining jury with televotes.

The official Rossiya 24 news channel says "TV viewers gave Russia victory", but alleges that the new voting rules "allowed the competition organisers to amend the results as they saw fit".

Russian social media is full of disappointment and much anger at what users see as a political result.

The Russian-language hashtag LazarevOurWinner topped Twitter trends this morning, reflecting the broad mood of defiance.

"I don't believe in Eurovision any more," declares blogger Dmity Braun, whose much-retweeted post goes on to say "politics robbed Russia of victory for a second year running".

But some opposition supporters think Russia should be relieved at losing, given the cost of hosting Eurovision.

"We'll save some money at least. We haven't saved up any for hosting the 2018 World Cup yet," says the popular spoof account MidRossii in another widely-retweeted comment.

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