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The end of a decade: Kyiv 2005

27 December 2009 at 00:53 CET

Taking part once, winning once and hosting once - that was the Eurovision Song Contest planning of Ukrainian broadcaster NTU and the consultancy company they hired to support the country's participation. Ruslana took victory at the 2004 contest, bringing the Eurovision Song Contest to the former Soviet hemisphere for the third time in four years. The Semi-Final and Final were scheduled to take place on 19 and 21 May, 2005, at the Palats Sportu in Kyiv. But the organization would run into severe problems...

As the end 2004 came closer, the eyes of the world would be focused on Ukraine. After Viktor Yanukovic was declared winner of the country's presidential elections, hundreds of thousands went out on the streets of Kyiv to protest against his victory, under strong indications of electoral fraud. His opponent, Viktor Yushenko, and the people in the streets of Kyiv demanded new elections. Yushenko won, marking the end of what would go into the history books as the Orange Revolution. During the transition period between the old and new period, preparatory works for the Eurovision Song Contest had come to a full stop, bringing the contest in serious danger. Finally, the newly elected president of Ukraine committed himself to the project, along with the new NTU management board, bringing the preparations back on track.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Eurovision Song Contest had a theme: Awakening, positioning Ukraine as an awakened country in Europe, ready for a new start. The theme art featured a lot of green (a mix between Ukraine's national colours; yellow and blue) and a fern flower.

The shows

For the third time, Sven Stojanovic directed the shows, while NTU eventually appointed Pavlo Hrytsak as Executive Producer. Maria Efrosinina and Pavlo Shylko hosted the shows. Previous winner Ruslana performed in the interval act and also interviewed the contestants backstage in the green room. Famous Ukrainian boxers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko opened the televoting, while a special trophy was presented to the winner by Ukraine's president, Viktor Yushchenko.

Svante Stockselius supervised the contest on behalf of the European Broadcasting Union for the second time. 


The contestants

24 nations were represented in the Semi-Final, 15 were already qualified for the Final directly, bringing the total number of contestants to 39. Ten slots for the Final were at stake during the Semi-Final, in which Bulgaria and Moldova debuted. Hungary returned after a decade long absense.

Many of the favourites with bookmakers, such as Iceland, Belarus, and the Netherlands failed to qualify from the Semi-Final. Eventually, Greece was heavily tipped as winner, sending Helena Paparizou, who represented Greece already back in 2001. Malta also topped the polls, sending 1998 contestant Chiara back to the Eurovision stage. She would take part for the third time in 2009. Swizerland, notably represented by an Estonian girl band, was also considered as one of the potential winners, but didn't meet that expectation. Eventually, Europe fell for the Greek entry My Number One.

Iceland also sent a former participant; Selma, who went to Jerusalem in 1999, represented Iceland once again. Constantinos Christoforou represented Cyprus in 1996 and, as part of the boy band ONE in Tallinn in 2002, now represented Cyprus solo.

A big shock went through the Eurovision Song Contest scene as the 'Big Four' - France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom - and host country Ukraine finished bottom five in the Final.


The controversies

Apart from the organizational issues in the run-up to the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest, this year's running saw several other controversies. 

Germany's entrant Gracia rejected calls to quit after her producer admitted manipulating the country's pop charts with mass purchases of her single. Gracia defended her producer David Brandes, also behind Swiss entry Vanilla Ninja, and said she would go to the finals in Kyiv despite complaints from other German singers.

The Ukrainian song had to be changed because it would bring a political message to the people, and EBU re-affirmed its commitment stating that no politics could be involved in the contest.

The development

The EBU introduced an undisclosed threshold number of televotes that would have to be registered in each voting country in order to make that country's votes valid. If that number was not reached, the country's backup jury would vote instead. In the final this affected Monaco, Andorra and Moldova but in the Semi-Final, Andorra, Monaco and Albania all used the backup jury for this reason.

Tomorrow, will look back at the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest, which took place in Athens.