TURIN- Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra won the Eurovision Song Contest in Italy on Saturday with their entry "Stefania", riding a wave of public support to claim an emotional victory that was welcomed by the country's president.
Sung in Ukrainian, the winning song fused rap with traditional folk music and was a tribute to band frontman Oleh Psiuk's mother.
The bookmakers had made Kalush Orchestra the clear favourite for the annual contest, which normally draws a television audience of close to 200 million, based in part on popular sympathy for Ukraine following Russia's invasion in February.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was quick to offer his congratulations.
"Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe! Next year Ukraine will host the Eurovision song contest," he said in an online message.
The winners traditionally get to host the event the following year and Ukraine is hoping that it will be in a position to do so in 2023.
"I thank the Kalush Orchestra for this victory and everyone who gave us your votes! I am sure that the sound of victory in the battle with the enemy is not far off," he added.
Ukraine was in fourth place based on jury voting but claimed victory with a record tally in viewer voting in an event that features 40 nations.
Britain's Sam Ryder finished second, while Chanel of Spain came third.