GreenJolly – Orange Revolution 2004 Mastermind

Eurovision Song Contest 2005 participant

Pop Beats Politics in Kiev

KIEV – Resisting attempts by the Ukrainian government and opposition to hijack it, the Eurovision Song Contest kept the cameras focused on the performers as favorite Greece earned the dubious honor of its first win in Europe’s biggest kitsch-fest.


None of the possible distractions – the 300,000 people on Independence Square, opposition pickets or a tent city organized by pro-Orange Revolution youth group Pora – could distract Europe’s 120 million television viewers from rooting for their favorite act.

The contest – the 50th since Eurovision began in 1956 – attracted 39 entries, the most ever, from as far afield as Iceland and Israel.

Bulgaria gave its maximum vote of 12 points to Greece, as did Albania, Serbia-Montenegro and Cyprus, as traditional allies helped Helena Paparizou’s seductive, Balkan-inspired performance, “My Number One,” claim the top prize early Sunday with 230 points. Malta came a distant second with 192.

A favorite of the crowds in Kiev was Zdob Si Zdub, or West Meets East, from first-time entrant Moldova. The group’s frantic chorus and drumming grandmother helped win the audience over to its weird folk-inspired tune, “Boonika Bate Doba” (Grandmama Beats the Drum-a). It finished sixth on 148 points, despite a perfect 12 from Ukrainian viewers.

Once Paparizou and her winning group had run onstage though a hail of silver ticker tape and hugged friends along the way, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko came out to address the crowd, squeezing Ukraine’s last few moments of glory before passing the torch to Greece with a special trophy for the new winner.

“This is the prize for the song that unites all Europe,” he said.

Whether the contest really did unite the continent, or even Ukraine, was another matter.

Ukraine’s entry, Greenjolly’s “Razom Nas Bahato,” or Together We Are Many, a politically charged anthem from last year’s Orange Revolution, did not go down smoothly with its eastern neighbors. Greenjolly earned a stingy two points from Russia and none from Belarus – a big change from last year, when Russia gave Eurovision winner, Ukraine’s Ruslana, 12 points, and Ukraine gave Russia 10 points.

Organizers ordered changes of the original lyrics, which included “Machinations, No. Falsifications, No. Yushchenko, Yushchenko, Yes!” But the message kept its revolutionary undertones with backing dancers wearing handcuffs before breaking free during the course of the song. The performance was preceded by images from last year’s revolution. Poland and Moldova reacted warmly, however, giving the song 12 and eight points respectively, out of 20th placed Ukraine’s meager haul of 30 points.

Belarussian-born Natalia Podolskaya, representing Russia, received the rowdy support and full 12 points of her native country for her anti-war soft rock anthem, “Nobody Hurt No One.” Ukraine voted her a modest four points as Russia went on to place 15th.

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