Ukraine’s Eurovision commentator Timur Miroshnychenko went viral this week when a photograph emerged of him broadcasting the competition live from an underground bomb shelter.
Timur, 36, has been Eurovision commentator for Ukraine since 2007 – except for when he co-hosted the show in Kyiv in 2017 – and never thought he would be in this situation.
‘We didn’t believe it until the morning of February 24,’ he tells Metro.co.uk, ahead of Kalush Orchestra’s performance in the 2022 Eurovision grand final, which he will be commentating on from his underground bunker.
‘Even when Russian troops were standing around Ukraine for a couple of months, we didn’t believe it. We can’t understand how it could be in 21st century Europe.’
‘No one in Ukraine was thinking of Eurovision,’ Timur says.
‘They thought just about how to stay alive, how to get to safe places, our families, our children.’
Timur’s own two young children were forced to flee to Germany, and Timur hasn’t seen them in two months, admitting it is ‘the hardest part of war.’
‘But I have to be here, of course,’ he insists. ‘It’s the hardest time for my country. I can’t leave it.’
Commentating on Eurovision was far back in the list of priorities for Timur when the unthinkable war broke out in February, but thanks to the Ukrainian resistance and support from around the world, ‘we have an opportunity to participate in Eurovision and have some plans for the future.
‘We could even think about where to host Eurovision next year.’
But next year feels like a lifetime away, with Timur commentating – and countless Ukrainian households watching – this year’s competition in underground bunkers.
‘Yesterday, 10 minutes before the second semi-final, air raid alerts were all around Ukraine,’ the commentator says.
‘Because of safety protocols, we have to go to safe spaces, to the shelters. But how could we, if we are [broadcasting] live? So that’s why we decided, before Eurovision, to create this studio under the ground in a safe place. No one could interrupt and we could continue under any conditions.’
As the air raids sounded around Ukraine on Thursday during the second semi-final, Timur became inundated with messages from people across the country who were ‘also watching Eurovision from bomb shelters’.
He describes it as a ‘hopefully temporary, but a new reality for our country’.
A win for Ukraine in this year’s competition would be ‘a very symbolic moment’ for the war-torn country, with Timur admitting that, on the first day of the invasion, ‘we thought we are alone in this war’.
‘But now we feel the support of all civilised worlds. The great people of Europe, of the UK, the United States. We know now we have someone at our back,’ he says, adding: ‘It gives us more power to continue our resistance.’
Throughout the Eurovision competition, Ukraine has been bolstered by the support of other European countries, with audiences in Turin holding ‘so many Ukrainian flags’.
‘We also saw so many Ukrainian flags in the hands of different artists. They’ve been holding their flag in the one hand and in the other, Ukrainian.
‘Even Mika and Laura, they sang People Have The Power and the stage was yellow and the hall was blue… of course it’s about us!’
For now, nobody in Europe knows what the results will hold at the end of Saturday’s competition, but Timur has his hopes for a Ukraine win.
And while the country may be unable to host Eurovision next year for security reasons, he has a solution.
‘I think the UK is going to be in second place. Then Ukraine, for example, will skip hosting Eurovision next year, and the UK is going to host it!’
The 2022 Eurovision Song Contest is almost at its end, but Timur and the people of Ukraine have a plea for the rest of the world, once the symbolic waving of flags and standing ovations are over.
‘Please don’t stop supporting us. Don’t forget about the war.’
The Eurovision grand final airs on Saturday from 8pm on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.