Kalush Orchestra have marked Ukrainian Independence Day by sharing a message of hope and making a fresh appeal for donations.
The rap group raised $900,000 (£739k) by auctioning off their Eurovision trophy after winning the contest in May. An additional $370,000 (£301k) was generated by raffling off the pink bucket hat that frontman Oleg Psyuk wore during their victorious performance.
Speaking to NME ahead of the competition, Psyuk explained how Kalush Orchestra taking part felt like a “huge responsibility”, given their home country’s ongoing war with neighbouring Russia.
Today (August 24), Psyuk posted the following statement to coincide with Ukrainian Independence Day: “Earlier this week, the entire Kalush Orchestra was together in Kyiv and witnessed a ‘parade’ of Russian equipment on the Maidan, Kyiv’s main square, which our Armed Forces turned into a pile of scrap metal.
“It shows our strength, power and invincibility. This year’s independence is also for all Ukrainians away from the front line, who are more united than ever and are also working tirelessly to speed up our victory together.”
He continued: “No one will be able to take this independence away from us. Also, today we launched a collection of funds for the rehabilitation of fighters from ‘Azovstal’. On August 24, for 24 hours, we encourage our followers on social networks to donate 24 hryvnias [55p] each — all the funds will go to the rehabilitation of our military.”
The UK – whose 2022 entry Sam Ryder came second to Kalush Orchestra – will host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of Ukraine. The shortlist of the seven UK cities in the running to stage next year’s event was revealed earlier this month.
A winner will be chosen by the BBC in conjunction with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), with successful city due to be announced in the autumn.
In a previous statement, Psyuk said Kalush Orchestra were “very sad” that Ukraine would not be welcoming Eurovision. “But we are grateful to the UK for their solidarity and for agreeing to hold the event in support of our country,” he continued.
“We hope Eurovision 2023 will have a Ukrainian flavour and celebrate our beautiful, unique culture. We, in turn, will make all efforts to help Ukraine win next year as well, so that Eurovision 2024 can take place in a peaceful country.”
They’re scheduled to embark on a North American headline tour this October. A portion of the funds raised from tickets will be donated to Ukrainian relief efforts via the charities Gate To Ukraine and Help Heroes Of Ukraine.