Eurovision took place in Turin, Italy, following the 2021 victory of “Zitti e Buoni” by Måneskin. During both the May 10th semifinal and May 14th final, the pro-Kremlin group Killnet and an associate group called Legion undertook Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks. Killnet also took credit for May 11th assaults on Italy’s Senate, upper house of parliament, and the National Health Institute (ISS), which knocked some services offline for several hours.
The attacks were a response to Eurovision banning Russia from the 2022 competition following the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, as well as Kalush Orchestra’s groundswell of popularity.
As Forbes noted, Killnet had advertised their intentions in a message on Telegram, promising to “send 10 billion requests” to the Eurovision online voting system and “add votes to some other country.”
The attacks were not successful. Kalush Orchestra’s “Stefania,” which combines hip-hop and traditional folk in a tribute to frontman Oleh Psiuk’s mother, took home the top prize. “Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe! ” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote online. “Next year Ukraine will host the Eurovision song contest.” Check out Kalush Orchestra’s official Eurovision video for “Stefania” below.
Cyberattacks originating in Russia have been on the rise since the February 24th invasion of Ukraine. Officially, the Kremlin denies any involvement with these groups, though oligarchs allied with President Vladimir Putin routinely support “troll farms” that carry out cyber attacks and social media disinformation campaigns designed to disrupt governments and influence elections around the world.