If you are celebrating a half-century you might as well do it in style. Ukraine, which last hit the headlines when it staged its “Orange Revolution”, is hosting the 50th Eurovision Song Contest, which its own Ruslana won last year.
Ukraine had been due to spend around 5 million euros from the state budget on the song contest. That figure was more than doubled a few months ago. One young Ukrainian in Kiev said: “I like having the contest here, because it is a breakthrough for our country. It would be great if we won again, but to be honest, I doubt we will.”
Another student said: “Eurovision gives Ukraine a chance to show itself and to prove that, as Ruslana says, Ukraine is a part of Europe.” Yesterday anti-government protestors put on their own show, chanting slogans against President Viktor Yushchenko.
But the theme for Saturday’s event is “Awakening”. Many Ukrainians hope the pro-western president can take the country closer to EU membership.
Ukraine’s Eurovision entry, Greenjolly, have had to scrap the catchy lyrics “Yushchenko – yes! This is our president – yes, yes!” The words were deemed too political.
Meanwhile, in yesterday’s semi-finals it was the divas who dominated. Norway’s glam rock group Wig Wam, complete with silver cat suits and huge glittering platform shoes, will be battling against 23 other acts on Saturday night.
Cyprus is one of several new EU members in the final, while perhaps the oldest participant ever, Grandma Boonika, is representing Moldova.