**Ukraine win Eurovision song contest with politically charged 1944
Ukraine has won the 2016 Eurovision song contest with an entry that caused tensions with Russia over its politically charged lyrics.
Singer-songwriter Jamala beat her rivals with haunting ballad 1944, which evoked the deportation of Crimean Tatars by Joseph Stalin and has been interpreted as a criticism of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.**
Before the final, which was held in Stockholm on Saturday evening and seen by many as the most politicised edition of the competition to date, Jamala had said her victory would show that Europeans were “ready to hear about the pain of other people”.
**Jamala, whose real name is Susana Jamaladynova, is herself a Crimean Tatar, has not been home since shortly after Russia’s 2014 annexation of the peninsula, but her parents and extended family still live there.
“[If I win] it will mean that modern European people are not indifferent, and are ready to hear about the pain of other people and are ready to sympathise,” Jamala told the Guardian by phone from the Swedish capital shortly before the contest.
Referring to her song’s lyrics, she said: “Of course it’s about 2014 as well. These two years have added so much sadness to my life.**
“Imagine – you’re a creative person, a singer, but you can’t go home for two years. You see your grandfather on Skype who is 90 years old and ill, but you can’t visit him. What am I supposed to do: just sing nice songs and forget about it? Of course I can’t do that.”
Guest nation Australia came second with Dami Im’s Sound of Silence, with favourites Russia in third, Bulgaria in fourth and Sweden fifth. The UK act, Joe and Jake, finished in 24th place, despite eliciting a favourable reaction from the Stockholm crowd.
This year’s competition used a new voting system, under which points were awarded partly by juries from member countries and partly by a public telephone vote. Australia had been in the lead at the end of the jury stage, but the phone voters ultimately swung things Ukraine’s way.
The show was broadcast live in Europe, China, Kazakhstan, Australia, New Zealand and, for the first time, the United States. The viewing figures for this year’s contest are not yet known, but they are expected to exceed the 200 million who tuned in last year.