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In an interview for Detector Media Oksana Skybinska spoke about the approach of the UA:PBC to the contest, the peculiarities of this year's national selection (Vidbir) and the controversial issues related to the selection jury and participants from other countries.

Ukraine is one of the most successful countries at the Eurovision Song Contest. Foreigners are constantly wondering how we manage to do it, especially in the midst of a full-scale war. However, within the country, the national selection, unofficially called by the foreigners Vidbir, is constantly accompanied by scandals - either regarding the choice of the jury or the choice of the participant and the song. It is not surprising, because Ukrainians treat the competition as a musical Olympics. This has its pros, but also flaws. What is the reason for this dynamic? What can foreigners learn from Ukrainians? How is the national final on February 3 going to surprise the audience, and why is it already special? Oksana Skybinska spoke about this and much more in an interview with Detector Media.

Oksana, before we move on to the current situation with the Eurovision Song Contest in Ukraine, I want to talk about Junior Eurovision 2023. Anastasiia Dymyd, the winner of the national selection for the contest, was subjected to a wave of hate. Various media personalities commented on it, urging not to expose the child and her performance to hate speech. However, even after the extremely successful performance in Nice and the fifth place in the final, negative comments about the girl can still be seen. Did the delegation take any actions that could have protected not only her but also other future contestants? Did this complicate the process of preparing for her performance?

Unfortunately, there is a practice that exists not only at Junior Eurovision, but also at the adult version, that after winning the national selection, Ukrainians themselves are critical of the winner. The winner of the national selection may face a lot of hate. And this does not apply specifically to the children's or adult competition. This happens to all kinds of participants. Of course, this creates a certain psychological pressure. And our task is to support the contestant as much as possible. In this particular case, Anastasiia.

But even in the case of an adult contest, we always communicate very closely with the representative of Ukraine at the respective contest, explaining that, unfortunately, this can happen, but it is important for us to prepare very well and perform as good as possible. Ukraine's result at Eurovision will be the decisive moment that will influence the general opinion about the song, the artist, and the representation. Therefore, despite the moods, it is very important for us to be as open as possible, to communicate, to communicate with the audience. To explain what messages a particular song carries, how we prepare, how much work the artist and the team do to prepare for Eurovision. That is, we are as open as possible, and we communicate with a kid or adult artist that they must be prepared, they carry a rather important mission - they represent Ukraine on the international stage, and this is especially important in times of full-scale war.

It is difficult when the degree of tension in society is high. And this must be understood and accepted. The role of the contestant is to prepare as well as possible, to represent the country with dignity, to convey the messages with which they won the national selection. After all, what does winning the Vidbir mean? It means that both the jury and the audience chose you, your song, your message to represent the country on the international stage. This is already a great achievement that you can be proud of. There is still a lot of work to be done, because the national selection is not the end of the story. Therefore, it is important to work together, to increase the scale of the song, the message that will be realized on stage through the production.

But usually, communication changes. We saw how many positive comments there were about Anastasiia Dymyd. A lot of Ukrainian stars supported Nastia, and a lot of organizations in Ukraine, influencers joined in to talk about her, her song, and called for support for Nastia and Ukraine. Eurovision, Junior Eurovision are a springboard for an artist, an opportunity to start a new path. For example, after Junior Eurovision, a new version of "Kvitka" was filmed, the Christmas one. Nastia participated in various New Year and Christmas projects and now performs a lot. That is, Junior Eurovision has become a platform where you can represent your country and meet a lot of people. It is a great cultural exchange with other countries and an opportunity to further develop in the artistic and cultural music arena. Nastia is passionate about it, she sincerely wants to do it. Therefore, unfortunately, hate is something that exists, and an artist and any other popular person should be able to work with it, perceive it correctly, and not let it interfere with their work.

Ukraine is the only country at Eurovision that has always made it to the final. Sometimes there is a feeling that Ukrainians take the contest too seriously. This is evident in their reaction to the relatively low positions of some artists. For example, when the band Greenjolly took the 19th place, they became a constant object of ridicule and disappeared from public view, although they were chosen by the audience to represent Ukraine by a large margin. Gaitana also disappeared from the radar after finishing 15th, and was reportedly depressed and on the verge of drug addiction. The 24th position of O.Torvald also caused a flurry of criticism. You've already mentioned how the delegation is trying to minimize hate in the case of the adult Eurovision Song Contest. Don't you think that Ukrainians' perception of the national selection songs can be distorted by too much focus on the result?

Eurovision is an important international cultural arena for Ukrainians. We all understand that now, especially in the time of a full-scale war, it is very important that Ukraine's voice is heard on every international platform. So, of course, we take it seriously, and I think it's good. The fact that Ukrainians are involved in this choice, in my opinion, is right. For our part, as organizers, we encourage this by using a democratic approach at every stage of the national selection. For example, this year we have added the opportunity for Ukrainians to choose another song at the national selection, as the 11th participant. That finalist was chosen by Ukrainians through open voting. We also involve Ukrainians in the selection of the jury, because the jury determines 50% of the result. Then Ukrainians decide by direct vote who will be the winner of the national selection. And Ukrainians also have the overwhelming power. This is a moment of unity - to choose the song that the people of Ukraine think is the most relevant this year.

Our main task as organizers is to offer the maximum choice. Whether we are talking about the list of songs or the list of juries. We want Ukrainians and the international community in general to see how diverse Ukrainian music is this year. For example, this year it is also very important for us that our national selection is watched both in Ukraine and abroad. That is, we are planning to provide an English-language broadcast of Vidbir so that people from different parts of the world can listen and see what Ukrainian music is like despite the war. After all, it is important for the world to see how we live and continue to create even during Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

(Editor's note: On February 3, Radio Promin will broadcast the Vidbir in English)

Our task is to showcase this music, offer a wide range of choices to Ukrainians for voting, and let people choose. And then our task with the winner is to prepare for Eurovision. We understand that this is a very important international platform for us to be heard. Of course, we are aiming for the highest result, and we are very pleased that after the finalists' songs were made public, Ukraine moved to the top of the bookmakers' list. We are following this, working hard, and the result is the result of our work.

This year, we saw an innovation at the national selection: the 11th finalist was chosen by the audience from among the participants of the so-called "longlist", a kind of wildcard stage. Although this practice has been quite widespread among countries in recent years, the method of the publicly revealead full "longlist" is rarely used. Some Ukrainians perceived the wildcard applicants as finalists, which caused criticism of the selection process. You've already talked a bit about the motivation for using the longlist, i.e. to provide more opportunities for choice, to democratize the entire national selection process. Were there any shortcomings in the implementation of these two ideas this year? If so, how will you correct them?

I would like to explain more why we acted this way and offered to present the "longlist" in its entirety. It is very difficult to live and create during a full-scale war. However, Ukrainian artists and musicians continue to work and release music. We really want to showcase this music. As a national selection, we want to be a platform where artists can come, both well-known and emerging, or those who already have an audience in a certain niche but are still unknown to the general public. We want Ukrainian music to develop, for Ukrainians to know, love and listen to it. We wanted the entire 'longlist' to be heard, because all the songs there are worth listening to. This is the only way we could do it.

Unfortunately, we are not able to hold semi finals during a full-scale war, to show a wider range of music in the traditional way like in the past. But we understand that even in times of war, it is possible to work with online resources. This allows us to showcase Ukrainian music, showcase artists, and talk about them. That's why we divided the national selection into three stages, where the first stage after the audition was the presentation of the 'longlist' songs, when Ukrainians could listen to all the songs participating in the competition. They could listen to them on YouTube, streaming platforms, add them to their playlists, and find out that some artists they didn't know before were really worth listening to. And among these songs, they can choose the one they think is most worthy of competing further in the final of the national selection. That was our main task.

I am glad that there are so many views and streams to the songs on YouTube. And that more than three hundred thousand people voted in the Diia app. This year, we added the voting for the eleventh finalist. And now we have eleven finalists instead of ten, like last year. That is, even in the midst of a full-scale war, we are still increasing the number of participating musicians who are not only directly involved in the national selection, but also heard by Ukrainian and international audiences. We see the reviews that are made by fans from different countries, viewers from different countries for the songs of our national selection. And this is another main task that we set for ourselves in the national selection - to make sure that Ukrainian musicians know that their work will be seen and heard.

As you mentioned, a number of fans from abroad are waiting for the Ukrainian qualifiers. It is very good that you see this, given the current situation in the country. In general, the selection itself is quite amazing. However, you probably have contact with the heads of delegations from other countries. Did you look at other countries' selections when organizing the Ukrainian one? For example, what about the Finnish UMK, which is considered to be the new "gold standard" among fans? Its peculiarity is a relatively small number of finalists (seven) and the release of one contest song per day in order to maximize the exposure of each of them and give them the opportunity to become hits in their home country. In addition, the Finnish broadcaster is making a music video for each of these songs. Would you like to implement a similar experience in Ukraine?

Of course, we also follow the national selections of other countries. We are interested in the practice of other countries, but we understand how unique the Ukrainian music industry is. Today, it is very difficult for us to be guided by the circumstances of holding a national selection in a country at peace while we are in a state of full-scale war. We take into account two factors. The first is our desire to hold the national selection as widely as possible. We are not considering the option of not holding the national selection. We will still hold it even in a full-scale war. Because it is important for us that Ukrainians are involved in the process of determining who will represent Ukraine at such an important international platform as Eurovision. Therefore, the very fact of holding a national selection is not a question for us. For us, it is a clear starting point that we will hold it.

The second extremely important factor for us is security. When we formulate the rules of the national selection and plan the Vidbir at each stage, we primarily take into account the security circumstances and conditions. We really want to conduct as many filming sessions and live broadcasts as possible. But we realize that any of this can become a target. We aim to avoid unnecessary security risks. When organizing an event, we think about safety first. We understand that it is much safer to create lyric presentation videos than to conduct filming, which can become another target.

A similar question is whether to hold semi finals. We understand that every live broadcast can be a target. That's why we are reducing the number of broadcasts and doing it more digitally. In fact, Ukraine can lead the way.

Our national selection should have some kind of unique nature. We really want to have our own tradition, face, signature style. That is why this year we have even introduced a separate theme for the national selection, which will be our guiding star for the next few years, "The Musical DNA of the Nation". One of the factors of a country's success at Eurovision is what kind of music and how Ukraine represents it. Our unique signature style is defined by our musical DNA. Every artist who goes to Eurovision gathers inspiration from Ukrainian culture and transforms it into a song through melody and lyrics. And this song represents our entire nation. We would like to cultivate our uniqueness, musical and cultural identity more as a unique musical platform that people can look up to. Because in a full-scale war, holding a national selection is a big challenge. But we accept it because we understand its importance - to take care of Ukrainian culture, the Ukrainian music industry and represent it on the international stage.

Let's talk about the jury. The composition of the Vidbir Jury has always been the subject of heated debate among Ukrainians. It usually happens that no matter what the composition is, people will still find flaws in it. In recent years, the jury members have been selected by popular vote. How are the candidates for the role selected? Do you think this method is justified? Is the fact that the list includes people who are not related in the competition in any way part of the concept?

Indeed, the jury is a very important element of the national selection, because 50% of the overall result is determined by the jury. And it is important that they have sufficient expertise and professionalism to allow them to evaluate the performances professionally. Ukrainians in general will determine the other 50% of the result. We approach the list of finalists the same way we approach the list of jury members. It is important for us to offer the most diverse and wide range of specialists who know what music is, shows, how the music industry works, work directly with songs and music and can evaluate it professionally.

Oksana Skybinska (photo: Maksym Polishchuk, "Media Detector")

For us, Eurovision has three main components. It is an artist who delivers a message, communicates with the audience through his or her song. That's why it's important to recognize the artist who can reach out to people both in the audience and through the camera lens. The second is the song. First of all, Eurovision is a song contest. Therefore, the song component plays an extremely important role. To what extent does the song have the potential to become a hit? And thirdly, we understand that Eurovision is always a show, it is always a spectacle that should not leave the viewer indifferent.

That is why, when we form the jury, we gather candidates who can evaluate each of these components. These are people who are artists themselves and can assess how well an artist can work with the audience. These are the people who write music, who are hitmakers, whose songs are known and listened to both in Ukraine and abroad. And these are the people who create the show. These are the people who can assess how much a song and an artist have the potential to grow and fully show themselves on the Eurovision stage. We know many examples in the history of Ukraine at Eurovision when it was thanks to a spectacular performance that Ukraine showed itself in a different way, the artist showed themselves in a different way, and achieved a high result on the international stage. It is very important for us that the democratic aspects of the national selection process are respected.

Why do we choose Diia for voting? Because this is actually the most reliable resource, a mobile resource where real people vote, where there is no cheating, where people choose who they want to see in the jury, or in the list of finalists, or as the winner at the Vidbir.

Andrii Danylko won the poll "Let's choose the jury for the Vidbir for Eurovision 2024" by a wide margin. Commentators on the previous years' national selections with Andrii Danylko as a member of the jury wrote that he was "the most objective and honest". At the same time, one can notice quite specific patterns in his judging: high scores either for his artists (he is an artist director for some) or for the artists of the label of Yurii Nikitin, where Verka Serduchka is signed. Is this behavior acceptable for a member of the Vidbir’s jury? Can this situation be considered as a basis for a conflict of interest? Especially since, for example, similar patterns can be traced in the case of this year's participant of the Vidbir, MELOVIN. How can such phenomena be prevented in practice? Is it possible to exclude Danylko from the list of judges in view of the above, especially since there is already a precedent for this?

(Editor's note: By "patterns" we mean, in particular, the maximum score of the duo "NU:Angels", with whom he is closely acquainted, in the final of the 2016 selection, which he commented on by saying:

"I gave 6 points, the highest score, for one simple reason, I can explain... Not because I know them. Jesus, of course I know them, and of course I wonder who would have given a different score if they were his friends, of course. My decision is my decision, it won't affect anyone."

In the semi finals of the 2018 Vidbir, he gave the band Mountain Breeze, whom he helped in their music career after being their mentor at the Ukrainian version of X Factor, 8 out of 9 points, explaining:

"Guys, I emphasize once again: Mountain Breeze has a song... Yeah, they had some technical issues, I guess, so that's why I gave an 8, but I have another 9. I could give it them sitting here... Well, if I had been [knocks on the table]... "9", but it wasn't a 9, but they had a song written by them, guys..."

To which the host Serhii Prytula replied:

"Andrii Mykhailovych, but basically everyone here has the songs they wrote."

As for MELOVIN, for two years in a row, in 2017 and 2018, Danylko said that he (as a performer) needed the contest the most and gave him only the highest scores, and during the discussion of other participants, he reminded other jury members that Eurovision is primarily a song contest, not, for example, performers or vocals. After the singer's 17th place at Eurovision itself, he justified Melovin's last place in the final by the jury voting with a "conspiracy").

Once again, I would like to emphasize that it is Ukrainians who choose the list of jurors they trust. 46% of Ukrainians who voted cast their ballots for Andrii Danylko. He has a really big lead. This means that Ukrainians trust his choice and trust him as an expert. Ukrainians want to see Andrii Danylko among the nine candidates proposed for the Vidbir jury. Of course, this is very important for us.

How we regulate the work of the jury? The first is the voting rules and the national selection rules. We formulate them in advance. Each member of the jury must familiarize themselves with the rules of the national selection and the rules of voting immediately before the selection process in order to understand how it should be done. Secondly, the jury members sign an agreement with the UA:PBC. This is a mandatory condition after the voting has taken place. This is the stage that is actually underway now. That is, the winners of the national vote are now working on agreements for jury members, getting acquainted with the rules of the jury and undertaking to follow the rules, impartiality and the criteria that should be set for a jury member by signing an agreement. On our part, this work is also carried out with the participation of the production company that produces the Vidbir. We fully do our work on this side and trust the opinion of Ukrainians.

It is also worth noting that Verka Serduchka is a Eurovision icon. Every Eurovision fan in different parts of the world will say so. Because even though Verka Serduchka did not win the Eurovision Song Contest, but took second place, there is no fan of the contest who does not know Andrii Danylko, does not know the "star" of Serduchka. This has been going on for many years, and Verka Serduchka continues to be invited to various Eurovision Song Contests held in different countries around the world. We remember the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, where Verka Serduchka also performed. Although Ukraine did not participate directly, Ukraine was present on the stage of the contest. And Ukraine was represented by Verka Serduchka in the interval acts. Therefore, I think no one doubts that Andrii Danylko is truly an integral part of Ukraine's history at Eurovision. I think that's why Ukrainians overwhelmingly selected Danylko to the jury.

Moving away from the topic of the jury, let's talk about the final show that will take place this year. Even though foreigners love the Vidbir (as they call it), many think the show is too long. Indeed, if we compare our selection with others, it lasts longer than two hours. And for many people, the almost hour-long break for voting within the show is strange. Is this due to technical capabilities? Are there any changes planned to reduce the show's duration?

Since this year, like the previous years, unfortunately, we are not able to hold semi finals, the final is the only show that is the final chord of the entire national selection process, which lasts six months. That is, six months of intense work, preparation, selection of songs and artists culminate in one point, which is the final. We really want this final to have, first of all, as many finalists as possible. This year there are 11 of them, which is quite a lot compared to other national selections. Secondly, we want to showcase Ukrainian music and the music industry in a broader way, in addition to the participants' numbers. That's why the Ukrainian final of the national selection always has invited guests. And this year there will be even more of them than usual. Many people are interested in this and we have something to show.

The theme of this year's Vidbir about the musical DNA of the nation simply stimulates us to show as much of this musical DNA in various manifestations as possible. Just like DNA has different facets, we want to show different facets of Ukrainian culture. When preparing this show, we want to make it as complete and rich as possible. Of course, we make it bright and spectacular so that there is always something interesting. This year, the postcards of the participants will be very interesting. There will be quite unexpected interval acts with many unusual combinations and combinations.

The Vidbir is actually the main music show in the country. It takes place once a year. And we really want this time to be a large-scale, spectacular, bright show. And we definitely don't want to shorten it, on the contrary, we want to fill it with the most interesting, unexpected elements.

As for the voting break, there will be no break this year. There is no need for it. The final of the national selection will be as intense as possible. It will be longer than in other countries where there are several semi-finals and one final. We have only one show, which will be large-scale and colorful, but the time for voting will be shorter.

Has the option of not announcing the judges' comments after each performance been considered? The jury's comments are likely to influence the viewers' preferences during the show and, accordingly, distort the results? For example, as in the 2017 Vidbir, where LALIKO received 81% of favorable votes according to the voting immediately after the performance via the Teleportal app, which was the highest result of that evening, and subsequently the lowest result in the audience vote (1 point) after the jury's comments).

It is important that it was Ukrainians who selected and formed this jury. That is, these are the people whose professional opinion they want to hear, whose expert opinion they rely on. Therefore, not giving the jury members the opportunity to express it, in our opinion, would probably be a certain restriction.

But it is very important that while the jury is speaking, the voting does not go on. It is closed at this time, so Ukrainians have the opportunity to see and hear the entire show, and then, when the competition part is over, no one else comments on anything. You can watch the recap of all the performances again, compare them, and only then choose. No one comments at this time. The jury members also evaluate songs on their own, give their marks, evaluate the performances, and then the audience votes.

And we really want the jury members to be mentors, not judges. That is, those who can give artists a valuable comment, a valuable expert opinion that will help them develop. We see that there are many new names among the finalists. Some of them are just starting their way in the music industry. And it is very important to hear the opinion of those who have already reached the top, who sell out stadiums, who are the biggest influencers in the music industry in Ukraine. That's why we want the artists who may return to the national selection next year to have expert opinions that they can work with.

Because the music industry is like a sport. It's a process in which you only improve when you hear yourself being constructively criticized. The jury is one of those important elements of mentoring, valuable advice and expertise that you can use as a tool to continue to improve your skills.

Eurovision is a contest that is naturally closely intertwined with political processes in Europe and the world. However, the mantra of "art beyond politics" continues to prevail among European artists. A number of performers and broadcasters participating in the competition rather deliberately neglect the issue of Russian aggression against Ukraine or try to avoid discussing it. The year 2024 is no exception - in particular, a representative of the Netherlands recorded a song about "loving Russian women and Russia" with a Russian artist a few weeks after the full-scale invasion. And one of the participants in the Finnish selection has a tattoo of Vladimir Putin, which he showed on social media a few years ago with the caption "I love Putin." Can our delegation somehow influence these processes or react constructively to them in a real, practical way?

(Editor's note: 2024 New Music Contest contestant Mikael Gabriel got this tattoo out in 2023 and publicly apologized for it.)

(Editor's note: The participant of the UMK 2024, Mikael Gabriel, got this tattoo removed in 2023 and publicly apologized for it.)

It is very important for us that there is no Russia at Eurovision. The membership of broadcasters from Russia and Belarus in the European Broadcasting Union was suspended in connection with Russia's aggression against Ukraine and human rights violations. Therefore, it is very important that Russia is not present at this competition. It is very important for Ukraine to be on this platform so that Eurovision as the international cultural platform has a Ukrainian voice.

As for the other participants, it is, of course, very important for us to ensure that all the rules are followed. That is, no politicization of the contest, no use of it as a political tool. We, of course, keep an eye on the other songs and representatives. We express our opinion, and we are always in contact with the European Broadcasting Union if we have any reservations. There is always a dialog. We hold consultations. Of course, if we have reservations, we talk about it. Since the competition is organized and held by the European Broadcasting Union, which sets its rules, it is natural that it regulates the implementation of these rules.

This year, Big Brave Events, a production unit of 1+1 media, will do the final show of the Vidbir 2024. Last year, the national selection was filmed by StarLightMedia. Do you think the average viewer will notice the difference? How did you choose the production company and what were the criteria?

To produce the final of the television version of the national selection, UA:PBC holds an artistic competition. There are not many companies on the Ukrainian market that can and do have sufficient resources to produce a project of this scale. Moreover, in the context of a full-scale war in Ukraine. By holding an artistic competition, we set a certain framework, because the final of the Vidbir already has its own face, its own atmosphere, which we want to preserve. UA:PBC has developed a theme for this year's and the next several years. It will set the tone and mood of the final.

Suspilne establishes the rules for both the national selection and the voting. It forms the list of finalists, those who will compete. Suspilne conducts the voting for the jury members. The main and basic elements that will determine the format of the national selection final are stable. Suspilne shapes them as the organizer of the national selection. The production, on its part, ensures the production and artistic component. During the artistic competition, participants propose concepts that, in their opinion, will present the Vidbir final in an interesting, innovative, and creative way, making it as captivating as possible for the audience. Of course, we want the maximum number of people to come and watch the Vidbir final, both in Ukraine and abroad. Therefore, productions—whether it's StarLightMedia or 1+1 Media, for example—offer artistic and creative concepts for the Vidbir. We choose the option that, in our view, can truly be the most interesting for the audience.

Of course, there will be artistic surprises, creative moments. One of them is already known to you – the hosting team. For the first time among the hosts, in addition to the traditional for us Timur Miroshnychenko, we will have last year's Eurovision host, Yuliia Sanina. Another novelty among the hosts is the stand-up comedian and volunteer, Vasyl Baidak. This was one of the artistic decisions proposed by the production, and Suspilne approved it as a creative element that can enhance and make the Vidbir final more interesting.

There will be many such elements, including surprises in interval acts and various segments of the show throughout the final. This is what guided us, and we hope the audience will find it intriguing. Currently, we are actively working on the preparation of the show, rehearsals are underway, and all competing acts are being finalized. The main foundation of the final is already in place. 

On our part, we ensure that the maximum number of people see the final. I mentioned earlier about the English commentary for the international audience. Also, this year we will ensure the inclusivity of our broadcast. We really want a wide range of people to participate in choosing who will represent Ukraine in Malmo, Sweden.

Finally, it's worth mentioning that during a full-scale war, it's very valuable that we still have the opportunity to witness the talent of Ukrainian performers and their ability to present songs visually. You have mentioned the mission of Eurovision in Ukraine multiple times, but doesn’t the national selection complicate the work of participants in showcasing their new material, especially when the main function of the Vidbir could be to choose the best song with the most potential within the competition? In that case, would it not be better to have a separate national festival for discovering new names in Ukrainian music, or, if the latter goal is the primary focus, to rebrand the show, as Finland did, and concentrate on the development of Ukrainian music? This is a common practice among European countries.

We want the national selection to be a platform, a significant stage for Ukrainian music, where the music can be diverse, and we aim to select the best and most promising option within the competition.

But in order to choose the best song, we need to gather the most diverse songs. Ukraine is rich in musical talents that are evolving, setting trends, and we want these trends to be seen and heard. It can be called a festival, indeed; in some countries, it has the scale of a full-fledged large festival, but in Ukraine, there is a full-scale war. We always have to take this into account. In these conditions, we are working on increasing the scale of the national selection to the level of a festival, but this is probably a longer-term perspective. Currently, we are working on expanding and being the platform where both well-known artists and other musicians can come and present their music.

We see the trends and the practice of past years, where within the Vidbir, Tvorchi won by transmitting a powerful message of the 'heart of steel of the Ukrainian people' that beats despite the war and Russian aggression, very actively, powerfully, and on a grand scale. Before them, there were Kalush Orchestra, whose song Stefania conveyed a message of love and motherhood, something to cherish and protect. This is also very relevant, and this song was heard by millions worldwide. They lit up the stage in Europe with their dance-ethnic folk motifs and presented authentic Ukrainian music in a contemporary way.

So, as we work on developing the Vidbir as a platform for Ukrainian music, of course, we aim to unite Ukrainians around the national selection. Unity is an extremely important mission for us. Musicians unite, Ukrainians unite around the viewing. Together, we choose the best song to represent Ukraine at Eurovision. Therefore, Eurovision is the goal we are aiming for. Conducting the national selection, shaping its rules, involving a maximum range of artists. At the same time, we want to give each of the artists who come to the national selection the opportunity to develop.

The Ukrainian national final for the Eurovision Song Contest 2024 will take place on February 3. It will be broadcast on the channel "Suspilne Kultura," the official YouTube channel of Eurovision, and on "Radio Promin" (English commentary). The Eurovision contest itself will take place in the Swedish city of Malmo in May, thanks to the victory of singer Loreen last year with the song 'Tattoo.' Every year, Sweden selects its representative by holding an open national music competition, Melodifestivalen, which now consists of five semi-finals and a grand final.

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