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Friday, May 12, 2017

Countdown to Eurovision 2017 - Ukraine wins first place again in 2016

Last year, after taking a year off from the Eurovision Song Contest, Ukraine placed first for the second time with the song 1944 by Crimean Tatar singer Jamala.

Jamala not only won first place for Ukraine again—her song, 1944, is Eurovision’s highest-ranking song in the contest's 61-year history.

In addition, with Jamala’s win last year, Ukraine became the first Eastern European country to win the contest twice.

Susanna Jamaladinova was born in Osh, Kirghiz SSR, to a Crimean Tatar father and an Armenian mother. Her Crimean Tatar ancestors had been forcefully resettled from Crimea to the central Asian republic under Joseph Stalin, during World War II.

Upon Ukraine's independence in 1991, her family returned to Crimea. Her parents and extended family still live there, but she has not been home since shortly after Russia’s annexation of the peninsula in 2014.

Ironically, with last year’s winner, Eurovision has been accused of breaking the rules with Jamala’s because of its supposed political messaging, which many have said is against Eurovision’s rules.

Notwithstanding the fact that the song was about a historical event in the distant past—that being the Kremlin’s 1944 deportation of the Crimean Tatars—and did not specifically refer to Russia’s recent illegal annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine. It was based on historical events experienced by her great-grandmother during that genocidal time.

Unsurprisingly, it was Russia that complained the most vociferously, and some western media unwittingly (or perhaps not) jumped on the Kremlin’s bandwagon.

Fortunately, and wisely in my opinion, Eurovision did not heed calls to disqualify Jamala’s winning song 1944, which she composed herself.

With Jamala’s win, Ukraine became the first Eastern European country to win the contest twice.

Here is Jamala with 1944, the first-place winner in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, 

To hear about all of Ukraine's top ten place finishes in Eurovision, check out the podcast of the April 29th, 2017 Vancouver edition of Nash Holos Ukrainian Roots Radio here.

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