Eurovision: Ukraine act Kalush Orchestra thank Boris Johnson for Kyiv visit

By Daniel Rosney
Newsbeat reporter

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Image source, MAXIM FESENKO

Ukraine's Eurovision entrant Kalush Orchestra has thanked Boris Johnson for visiting their country's capital, Kyiv.

The current favourites to win next month's song contest were given special permission to leave the country to perform gigs in Tel Aviv and Amsterdam.

Speaking to Radio 1 Newsbeat, frontman Oleh Psiuk says he can "personally feel" the prime minister's support in the war against Russia.

The band are now preparing to return to Ukraine later this week.

Men of fighting age haven't been allowed to leave Ukraine, with the majority of those fleeing being women and children.

Media caption,
Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra are the bookies’ favourites to win the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin next month

"Representing Ukraine at this difficult time of war, I want to do my best to be yet another mouthpiece for Ukraine," Oleh tells Newsbeat after performing for around 5,000 Eurovision fans in Amsterdam on the weekend.

Travelling to Israel and The Netherlands in the run-up to the song contest has been a "striking contrast," he explains.

"People here are not worried at all and it's quite unusual. Many people may see everything that has been happening as a kind of a war movie, but it is very tough when it is happening to you and your family.

"When you wake up in the morning, not being sure if your family and friends are still alive."

As well as performing for Eurovision fans, Kalush Orchestra have been using their short promo tour to meet refugees.

"We believe our mission is to support people while we are here," Oleh says.

"If all join efforts and do what they can I think the war will be over soon and will not begin in other countries."

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Ukraine President Zelensky met with Boris Johnson over the weekend

Following Boris Johnson's visit, Downing Street say the UK will send 120 armoured vehicles and anti-ship missile systems to support Ukraine.

The prime minister referenced "President Zelensky's resolute leadership and the invincible heroism and courage of the Ukrainian people" while on a visit to Kyiv.

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