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Kyiv rolls out red carpet for Eurovision song contestants

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Kyiv rolls out red carpet for Eurovision song contestants

The countdown is on ahead of Saturday’s Eurovision Song Contest (May 13). Events were kicked off by a ceremony on Sunday to mark the official opening in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.

From Belarus to San Marino and the Netherlands, the contestants were all there. Many will have to get through the semi-finals first.

Montenegro’s contestant, Slavko Kalezic, describes himself as the country’s “drag queen”. His hero: Austria’s 2014 winner Conchita Wurst.

“Conchita is really in love with everything I did for Eurovision, so it is a big compliment, you know. We brought art to Eurovision and that’s the big deal for everything, because like this year’s Eurovision theme is ‘Celebrate Diversity’, I think I prepared… There is a big difference between Conchita and me, but I am a professional actor – this is my character,” Kalezic said.

The festivities have been overshadowed by a dispute between Ukraine and Russia, but the focus now is on the performers and their songs.

Italy is tipped as a favourite to give southern Europe its first win in 12 years.

“I don’t know, because of ‘Occidentali’s Karma’ maybe is a good song. I give all my spontaneous way to dance and sing, maybe with my smile,” said Italy’s entrant Francesco Gabbani.

Another who is catching the eye is the youngest contestant: 17-year-old Kristian Kostov representing Bulgaria.

“I have more energy than the others for sure and, I don’t know, I am the most chilled contestant for sure. I am not scared of anything, I am just having my time, like feeling happy and everything, yeah,” the teenager said.

One question being asked is whether the old guard – winning countries from years gone by such as the United Kingdom (Lucie Jones) and Germany (Levina) – can improve on recent lamentable finishes from their respective nations.

The rendez-vous is set for Kyiv next weekend.