TURYN – Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra, which has just won Eurovision, released a new video on Sunday for its hit winner “Stefania”, which shows scenes of war-torn Ukraine and women in battle gear as the annual song contest takes on an increasingly political tone.

The video was released hours after the Kalush Orchestra brought Ukraine its third Eurovision victory, ahead of Britain in the grand final after counting the votes of some of the roughly 200 million spectators from the 40 participating countries.

The band members were photographed and handed out autographs near the Turin hotel on Sunday, on the way to an interview with the Italian leading TV company RAI. They must return to Ukraine on Monday after receiving a special permit to leave the country to compete.

Russia was barred from participating in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest after its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Organizers said the move was aimed at keeping politics in a competition that promotes diversity and friendship between peoples.

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But politics still got into a fight when the Kalush feldsher Oleg Psyuk ended his victory on Sunday night from the stage with a request: “I ask all of you to help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Azovstali now! he said, referring to a besieged metallurgical plant in a strategic port city.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the victory, expressing hope that Ukraine will be able to host the competition next year, and predicting that “the winning chord in the battle with the enemy is not far off.”

“Stephanie” was written by soloist Psyuk as a tribute to his mother, but after the Russian invasion it became the anthem of the homeland with the words that promise: “I will always find my way home, even if all roads are destroyed.”

In the new music video, female soldiers take children out of destroyed buildings, greet children in shelters and leave them as they board a train. The videos say it was filmed in cities that have survived some of the worst devastation of the war, including Bucha, Irpen, Borodyanka and Gostomel.

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Obviously, the video was made before the band left Ukraine, as it features members of the band and – probably – actors performing under the rubble.

“Dedicated to the courageous Ukrainian people, mothers who protect their children, all those who gave their lives for our freedom,” – said in a statement.

The Kaluga Orchestra includes experts in folklore and mixes traditional folk melodies and modern hip-hop in a strong defense of Ukrainian culture, which has gained additional meaning as Russia has falsely tried to claim that Ukrainian culture is not unique.

At a news conference Sunday after the contest, Psyuk said in his branded pink hat that the victory was particularly significant given the war and the support of the population that pushed Ukraine to victory.

“We are here to show that Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian music are alive, and they have their own and very special signature,” Psuik said.

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Winfield reported from Rome.

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