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Eurovision: 'A big day for Crimea'

Do Not UseDo Not Use 16/05/2016 By Tom Burridge

One Ukrainian Crimean Tartar supporting Jamala in Stockholm described her victory as "a big day for Crimea".

"This song is about our tragedy, and it was sung on an international stage," said Emine Ziyatdinova.

"Yes!" tweeted Ukraine's President, as he offered Ukraine's "heartfelt" thanks for "an unbelievable performance and victory!"

Petro Poroshenko spoke on the phone to the winning singer late last night.

The EU's Ukraine delegation also sent its congratulations.

And a senior Western diplomat I met last week was keen to sing Jamala's praises as a face of the "new Ukraine".

How Twitter reacted to Jamala's win

How political was this?

Beating Russia, the favourite, at a time when the conflict in the east of Ukraine drags on will add poignancy to Ukraine's victory.

Then there is the subject matter of the song. Jamala has always insisted that it's a personal tale because her great-grandmother was one of those deported by Stalin from Crimea.

But like it or not, anything linked to Crimea in Ukraine today has, at the very least, political overtones because Russia's annexation of the peninsula remains an emotive topic and point of grievance for many Ukrainians.

That is especially true for Tartars like Jamala, who have left the peninsula and say they cannot return.

But the sombre nature of the song had appeared in some ways to be its Eurovision Achilles heel.

That's because the lyrics, in both English and Tartar, are hardly the type of catchy pop number that all too often comes out on top.

It makes Jamala's victory all the more remarkable.

However, for all the animosity between Moscow and Kiev over the course of the past two years or so, there is a very interesting footnote to this year's Eurovision, provided by the popular vote.

Ukrainian voters gave Russia a massive 12 points. Russian voters nearly returned the favour, giving Ukraine 10 points.

It could be a reminder that the recent disputes between the two countries are to some extent political, not popular, affairs.

That is to say, strong family, cultural and linguistic ties mean relations between many Ukrainian and Russian people are still cordial.

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