'Anti-Russian' song wins Eurovision, and Ukraine erupts with joy

Ukraine's Jamala won a politically charged edition of the annual Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday.
Ukraine's Jamala won a politically charged edition of the annual Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday.

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    Ukraine's Jamala won a politically charged edition of the annual Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday.

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Ukraine's Jamala won a politically charged edition of the annual Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday. 04:01

(CNN)The winner of Europe's immensely popular Eurovision Song Contest might have stoked tensions in Russia, but in her homeland she's being lauded as a hero.

Jamala of Ukraine won a politically charged edition of the annual event in Stockholm, Sweden, on Saturday night with her performance of "1944," a somber but controversial song that evoked Moscow's deportation of members of her Crimean ethnic group during World War II.
The triumphant singer returned to Ukraine Sunday -- the same day that the country commemorates victims of political repression, including the Soviet repression of Crimean Tatars.
    Jamala, whose full name is Susana Jamaladynova, told Ukraine Today in February that she wrote the song because she was inspired by a story her great-grandmother told her about the deportation of her family and others in Crimea at the orders of Josef Stalin.
    "I would prefer that all these terrible things did not happen to my great-grandmother, and I would even prefer if this song did not exist," the tearful competitor told reporters after the competition.
    Stalin accused the Tatars of collaborating with the Germans during World War II.

    Heartfelt thanks

    The night she won, tributes from public figures flowed as the country reveled in a first Eurovision win since 2004 -- and one which many feel is particularly vindicated.
    "Yes!" tweeted President Petro Poroshenko, as he offered Ukraine's thanks for "an incredible performance and victory!"
    Ukraine Today reports that Minister of Culture Yevhen Nyshchuk announced on social media that the singer will be awarded the People's Artist of Ukraine -- the highest award for an "ordinary" artist.
    "Whatever one's attitude to this type of award, I think it is a small compliment from the state, symbolic and pleasant acknowledgment," the outlet quoted Nyshchuk as saying.

    'Historic' win

    The day after the win, 5 Kanal news greeted the country on a "historic" morning for Ukraine.
    "Eurovision is ours again, thanks to Jamala."
    Ukraine's biggest rock star Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, who is also a former politician, folded in his birthday celebrations with Jamala's win, calling it "the best birthday present I could imagine."
    One of the country's Eurovision alumnus also posted her congratulations for the "much-needed" win.
    "The victory is ours! Thank you, Europe! This is fair! It's impressive!" said singer Ruslana, who won the competition in 2004, in a Facebook post.
    "Jamala you did your best and even more! We all are thankful to you for the victory!" she posted on Facebook.

    Political goodwill

    Politicians were effusive in their support, with former minister of the economy Aivaras Abromavicius tweeting, "Wow!!! #jamala1944 no 1! Eurovision welcome back to Ukraine!!!"
    MP and journalist Mustafa Nayyem also took to Facebook to offer his thoughts, focusing more on the apparent poetic justice of Jamala's win. He wrote that Europe gave "Ukraine victory in the fairest and most elegant way, by depriving the Russians of hope at the last moment, in a calm and cool manner -- the same Russians who took away the motherland of this daughter of the Crimean Tatar people."
    Nayyem, one of the 2014 revolution's leaders, added that he hoped Ukraine, awarded hosting rights by virtue of Jamala's win, will take the competition to the disputed region.
    "Justice would be served if the next Eurovision is held in Jamala's historical homeland -- Ukraine's Crimea," he said.
    Tartar activist Lenur Islyamov hailed the win -- which occurred as Tartars say they are experiencing renewed persecution in their traditional homeland -- as a "first defeat for Putin, and a crushing one."