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UKRAINE

Ukrainian refugees in Denmark can apply for residence ‘from this week’

Ukrainian nationals who have fled to Denmark as a result of the Russian invasion of their country are expected to be able to apply for residence in the country as soon as Thursday.

People at a pro-Ukraine demonstration in Copenhagen
People at a pro-Ukraine demonstration in Copenhagen on March 5th. The country is set to pass a special law to help Ukrainian refugees to settle in Denmark. Phto: Ólafur Steinar Rye Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix

Expedited parliamentary procedure of a special law which will provide for Ukrainians to apply for residence in Denmark is expected to take three days this week. The process of passing new laws normally takes weeks or months.

The rapid adoption of the new law is expected this week after a bill was tabled in order to provide for thousands of Ukrainian refugees who are expected to arrive in Denmark following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, which began late last month.

The special law while mean Ukrainians are likely to be able to avoid extended stays in asylum centres and will give them opportunity to start schools or jobs in Denmark as quickly as possible.

Municipalities will be asked to take in Ukrainians within days after their residence applications are approved.

If the refugees are yet to find a place to live in Denmark, they can apply for accommodation at an asylum centre but without applying for asylum. Any place of accommodation should be as close as possible to job opportunities or any network they might already have in Denmark.

A parliamentary majority for the special law is already in place and it is expected to be voted through on Wednesday.

Municipalities across Denmark currently have capacity for 20,000 refugees from Ukraine, but the Danish Immigration Service (Udlændingestyrelsen) has said it expects a higher number.

According to the text of the bill, the cost of taking in 20,000 refugees is expected to be 2.2 billion kroner net in 2022 and 2023.

Most of this money will be spent by the Ministry of Immigration and Integration on “operation and adaptation of accommodation, activities and Danish lessons, results-based subsidies, basic subsidies, self-sufficiency payments and repatriation payments”.

“Developments [in Ukraine, ed.] indicate there could be a substantially higher number (of refugees),” accompanying notes to the bill state.

“The actual calculated additional costs will depend on factors including the number and configuration of displaced persons who are given residence status under the proposed provisions,” it states.

1,085 people have so far applied for asylum in Denmark since the invasion began, according to a latest count, updated on Friday. More may have arrived in Denmark without having informed authorities.

Companies will be offered a “turbo-assessment” of the qualifications of Ukrainian refugees under the bill, which could enable skilled persons to use their qualifications in Denmark without the usual long wait for authorisation.

“We must give Ukrainian refugees a very warm welcome. In addition to safety and security, we must provide the chance to get an everyday life going again,” Minister for Education and Research Jesper Petersen said in a press statement.

Authority assessments of qualification equivalency can give access to both education programmes and jobs.

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UKRAINE

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest Sunday with an infectious hip-hop folk melody, boosting spirits in the embattled nation fighting off a Russian invasion that has killed thousands and displaced millions of people.

Rapping, breakdancing Ukrainians win Eurovision in musical morale boost

Riding a huge wave of public support, Kalush Orchestra beat 24 competitors in the finale of the world’s biggest live music event with “Stefania”, a rap lullaby combining Ukrainian folk and modern hip-hop rhythms.

“Please help Ukraine and Mariupol! Help Azovstal right now,” implored frontman Oleh Psiuk in English from the stage after their performance was met by a cheering audience.

In the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, the triumph was met with smiles and visible relief.

“It’s a small ray of happiness. It’s very important now for us,” said Iryna Vorobey, a 35-year-old businesswoman, adding that the support from Europe was “incredible”.

Following the win, Psiuk — whose bubblegum-pink bucket hat has made him instantly recognisable — thanked everyone who voted for his country in the contest, which is watched by millions of viewers.

“The victory is very important for Ukraine, especially this year. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Glory to Ukraine,” Psiuk told journalists.

Music conquers Europe

The win provided a much-needed morale boost for the embattled nation in its third month of battling much-larger Russian forces.

Mahmood & BLANCO  performing for Italy at Eurovision 2022

Mahmood & BLANCO perform on behalf of Italy during the final of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe!” he wrote on Facebook.

“This win is so very good for our mood,” Andriy Nemkovych, a 28 year-old project manager, told AFP in Kyiv.

The victory drew praise in unlikely corners, as the deputy chief of the NATO military alliance said it showed just how much public support ex-Soviet Ukraine has in fighting off Moscow.

“I would like to congratulate Ukraine for winning the Eurovision contest,” Mircea Geoana said as he arrived in Berlin for talks that will tackle the alliance’s expansion in the wake of the Kremlin’s war.

“And this is not something I’m making in a light way because we have seen yesterday the immense public support all over Europe and Australia for the bravery of” Ukraine, Geoana said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the win “a clear reflection of not just your talent, but of the unwavering support for your fight for freedom”.

And European Council President Charles Michel said he hoped next year’s contest “can be hosted in Kyiv in a free and united Ukraine”.

‘Ready to fight’
Despite the joyous theatrics that are a hallmark of the song contest, the war in Ukraine hung heavily over the festivities this year.
 
The European Broadcasting Union, which organises the event, banned Russia on February 25, the day after Moscow invaded its neighbour.
 
“Stefania”, written by Psiuk as a tribute to his mother before the war, mixes traditional Ukrainian folk music played on flute-like instruments with an invigorating hip-hop beat. The band donned richly embroidered ethnic garb
to perform their act.
 
 
Nostalgic lyrics such as “I’ll always find my way home even if all the roads are destroyed” resonated all the more as millions of Ukrainians have been displaced by war.

Kalush Orchestra received special authorisation from Ukraine’s government to attend Eurovision, since men of fighting age are prohibited from leaving the country, but that permit expires in two days.

Psiuk said he was not sure what awaited the band as war rages back home.

“Like every Ukrainian, we are ready to fight as much as we can and go until the end.

Britain’s ‘Space Man’

Ukraine beat a host of over-the-top acts at the kitschy, quirky annual musical event, including Norway’s Subwoolfer, who sang about bananas while dressed in yellow wolf masks, and Serbia’s Konstrakta, who questioned national healthcare while meticulously scrubbing her hands onstage.

Coming in second place was Britain with Sam Ryder’s “Space Man” and its stratospheric notes, followed by Spain with the reggaeton “SloMo” from Chanel.

After a quarter-century of being shut out from the top spot, Britain had hoped to have a winner in “Space Man” and its high notes belted by the affable, long-haired Ryder.

Britain had been ahead after votes were counted from the national juries, but a jaw-dropping 439 points awarded to Ukraine from the public pushed it to the top spot.

Eurovision’s winner is chosen by a cast of music industry professionals — and members of the public — from each country, with votes for one’s home nation not allowed.

Eurovision is a hit among fans not only for the music, but for the looks on display and this year was no exception. Lithuania’s Monika Liu generated as much social media buzz for her bowl cut hairdo as her sensual and elegant
“Sentimentai”.

Other offerings included Greece’s “Die Together” by Amanda Georgiadi Tenfjord and “Brividi” (Shivers), a duet from Italy’s Mahmood and Blanco.

Italy had hoped the gay-themed love song would bring it a second consecutive Eurovision win after last year’s “Zitti e Buoni” (Shut up and Behave) from high-octane glam rockers Maneskin.

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