IN PICTURES: Over 100,000 march for Ukraine in German capital

More than 100,000 people attended a Ukraine solidarity march in Berlin on Sunday, police said, with many protesters dressed in the blue and yellow colours of the Ukraine flag.

IN PICTURES: Over 100,000 march for Ukraine in German capital
Protestors holding a placard reading "Putin, it is not too late to turn back!" stand in front of the Russian embassy in Berlin to demonstrate for peace in Ukraine on February 27, 2022. - More than 100,000 people turned up at the march in solidarity with Ukraine, police said, with many protesters dressed in the blue and yellow colours of the Ukraine flag. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

Police estimated the turnout at “at least a low six-number figure”, while organisers of the march said half a million had turned up.

Bearing posters like “no World War 3”, “Stop the killer”, or “Berlin at 640 km from the frontlines”, the protesters massed at the Brandenburg Gate, a stone’s throw away from the imposing Russian embassy on Unter den Linden.

READ ALSO: Germany set to shut airspace to Russian planes on Sunday

“It is important to me for Germany to show that it is standing for democracy in Europe,” said Hans Georg Kieler, 49, who had turned out at the demonstration.

Protesters crowd around the victory column and close to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to demonstrate for peace in Ukraine on February 27, 2022. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

He voiced approval for Germany’s decision to begin delivering armaments to Ukraine, but said he thought “we could have helped Ukraine more”.

Germany has stepped up its commitment to apply sanctions to Russia over the weekend, moving to ban Russia from the Swift global payments system and closing off its airspace to Russian planes.

Ukrainian Valeria Moiseeva, 35, was also at the march.

“I am personally disappointed by Russia, I hate Russia, I hate all Russians,” she said, adding that her mother was now sitting in a cellar in Kyiv in fear of bombs.

Protestors holding hearts in the colours of Ukraine march down the Strasse des 17. Juni road between the Victory column and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to demonstrate for peace in Ukraine on February 27, 2022. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

She said she had to be at the demonstration because “I can’t do more than that.”

Protestor wrapped in Ukrainian flags hold placards reading “Stop Putler” and “Europe, do you need more refugees?” stand in front of Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to demonstrate for peace in Ukraine on February 27, 2022. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)
Some demonstrators nodded to the influx of refugees that will inevitably be one consequence of the war Russia declared on Ukraine on Thursday.
More than 368,000 refugees, mainly women and children, have escaped the military fire into neighbouring countries based on data from national authorities, the U.N. refugee agency said on Sunday.
A large number of those escaping have crossed over into Poland, where the authorities have counted some 156,000 crossing since the invasion started early Thursday.
Border guards counted some 77,300 arrivals from Ukraine on Saturday alone. The refugees have arrived in cars, in packed trains and even on foot.
Those who arrive with nowhere to go can count on the help of volunteers – both members of NGOs and private citizens. Others have also headed to Moldavia, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania.

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Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest Sunday with an infectious hip-hop folk melody, boosting spirits in the embattled nation fighting off a Russian invasion that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people.

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Riding a huge wave of public support, Kalush Orchestra beat 24 competitors in the finale of the world’s biggest live music event with “Stefania”, a rap lullaby combining Ukrainian folk and modern hip-hop rhythms.

“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azovstal right now,” implored frontman Oleh Psiuk in English from the stage after their performance was met by a cheering audience.

In the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the triumph was met with smiles and visible relief.

“It’s a small ray of happiness. It’s very important now for us,” said Iryna Vorobey, a 35-year-old businesswoman, adding that the support from Europe was “incredible”.

Following the win, Psiuk — whose bubblegum-pink bucket hat has made him instantly recognisable — thanked everyone who voted for his country in the contest, which is watched by millions of viewers.

“The victory is very important for Ukraine, especially this year. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Glory to Ukraine,” Psiuk told journalists.

Music conquers Europe

The win provided a much-needed morale boost for the embattled nation in its third month of battling much-larger Russian forces.

Mahmood & BLANCO  performing for Italy at Eurovision 2022

Mahmood & BLANCO perform on behalf of Italy during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he wrote on Facebook.

“This win is so very good for our mood,” Andriy Nemkovych, a 28 year-old project manager, told AFP in Kyiv.

The victory drew praise in unlikely corners, as the deputy chief of the NATO military alliance said it showed just how much public support ex-Soviet Ukraine has in fighting off Moscow.

“I would like to congratulate Ukraine for winning the Eurovision contest,” Mircea Geoana said as he arrived in Berlin for talks that will tackle the alliance’s expansion in the wake of the Kremlin’s war.

“And this is not something I’m making in a light way because we have seen yesterday the immense public support all over Europe and Australia for the bravery of” Ukraine, Geoana said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the win “a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom”.

And European Council President Charles Michel said he hoped next year’s contest “can be hosted in Kyiv in a free and united Ukraine”.

‘Ready to fight’
Despite the joyous theatrics that are a hallmark of the song contest, the war in Ukraine hung heavily over the festivities this year.
The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, banned Russia on February 25, the day after Moscow invaded its neighbour.
“Stefania”, written by Psiuk as a tribute to his mother before the war, mixes traditional Ukrainian folk music played on flute-like instruments with an invigorating hip-hop beat. The band donned richly embroidered ethnic garb
to perform their act.
Nostalgic lyrics such as “I’ll always find my way home even if all the roads are destroyed” resonated all the more as millions of Ukrainians have been displaced by war.

Kalush Orchestra received special authorisation from Ukraine’s government to attend Eurovision, since men of fighting age are prohibited from leaving the country, but that permit expires in two days.

Psiuk said he was not sure what awaited the band as war rages back home.

“Like every Ukrainian, we are ready to fight as much as we can and go until the end.

Britain’s ‘Space Man’

Ukraine beat a host of over-the-top acts at the kitschy, quirky annual musical event, including Norway’s Subwoolfer, who sang about bananas while dressed in yellow wolf masks, and Serbia’s Konstrakta, who questioned national healthcare while meticulously scrubbing her hands onstage.

Coming in second place was Britain with Sam Ryder’s “Space Man” and its stratospheric notes, followed by Spain with the reggaeton “SloMo” from Chanel.

After a quarter-century of being shut out from the top spot, Britain had hoped to have a winner in “Space Man” and its high notes belted by the affable, long-haired Ryder.

Britain had been ahead after votes were counted from the national juries, but a jaw-dropping 439 points awarded to Ukraine from the public pushed it to the top spot.

Eurovision’s winner is chosen by a cast of music industry professionals — and members of the public — from each country, with votes for one’s home nation not allowed.

Eurovision is a hit among fans not only for the music, but for the looks on display and this year was no exception. Lithuania’s Monika Liu generated as much social media buzz for her bowl cut hairdo as her sensual and elegant

Other offerings included Greece’s “Die Together” by Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord and “Brividi” (Shivers), a duet from Italy’s Mahmood and Blanco.

Italy had hoped the gay-themed love song would bring it a second consecutive Eurovision win after last year’s “Zitti e Buoni” (Shut up and Behave) from high-octane glam rockers Maneskin.