RUSLANA THREATENS TO BURN HERSELF
KYIV, UKRAINE – Addressing the Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square), the Ukrainian people’s artist, Eurovision-2004 winner, Ruslana Lyzhicko declared that she will burn herself if no changes are made in the country.
Hundreds of thousands of people rallied today on the Independence Square of Kiev against their government and for a pro-EU-course of their country. The Ukrainian Eurovision winner Ruslana (“Wild Dances”) stayed on the front line day and night since the first hour of the protests two weeks ago. She has become a symbol of the pro-EU movement.
“It is not about political parties, but about the people who want to live a better life,” says Ruslana, whose full name is Lyzhychko, and who has been passionately supporting an EU future of her country for many years. After Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych announced two weeks ago, not wanting to sign an association agreement with the EU which had been negotiated for years, people took to the streets. The singer, composer and producer, who is in her home country a superstar with albums having received platinum status, called every day to mass demonstrations. First tens of thousands, later hundreds of thousands of people turned the Independence Square in Kiev, which was named EuroMaidan by the activists, into a sea of blue-and-yellow Ukrainian and EU flags, and they remained day and night.
When President Yanukovych actually didn’t sign the agreement, the demands of the protesters changed. Ruslana read out a resolution of the opposition parties, who demanded a dismissal of the government. Again, hundreds of thousands gathered. First the night was calm. At 4 o’clock in the morning all of a sudden the police violently attacked peaceful demonstrators. Ruslana immediately rushed for help. “It was terrible, the police beat us with batons and sparked people lying on the floor,” reported one student. The singer gathered the wounded and together with them took refuge in a nearby monastery.
The 40-year-old is more than ever convinced of her struggle: “A government that is doing something like that to our children has lost all justification!” Even after days, the shock runs deep and many students need psychological support. “The injuries may heal, but the emotional scars of the brutal assault the young people will not come to terms with so soon.”
When the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, came to Kyiv to negotiate between the government and the opposition Ruslana took the chance to appeal to him personally urging him to investigate the horrific events of that night thoroughly: “Now hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are peacefully demanding the implementation of European standards in their country – specifically they want to have a guarantee from the government that the participants of peaceful demonstrations will not become targets for persecution by the authorities.
While boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko, who as chairman of his party Udar, together with other opposition leaders is pursuing a political change of power – he had initiated a motion against Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov, which however, failed in Parliament – Ruslana embodies the human side of the revolution.
“The last night was particularly cold and windy,” the singer wrote at 6 o’clock in the morning on her Facebook. She is not a distanced star, but with the people staying day and night with them for their joint dream of a future in the EU. She talks to people, comforts and cares. People love her for it. “She is our heroine,” says an elderly lady who warms up at a fire barrel on Maidan. And on her Facebook page, which has gained more than 2,000 new likes in recent days, Inna states: “Ruslana is brave, sincere, inspiring and supportive – a shining example of a true patriot and charismatic leader”.
The artist, who nine years ago became an icon already in the Orange Revolution is known for her social commitment. She raised funds for orphanages and children hospitals and helped the victims of a devastating flood in Western Ukraine. In addition she is promoting renewable energies – a real novelty in the former Soviet country – mainly for environmental reasons, but also to be independent of Russian gas. On the roof of her house in a Kyiv suburb solar panels are installed.
Ruslana lives her dreams with deep conviction. “We are part of the European community, and I firmly believe that it is only a matter of time that Ukraine will be fully integrated in the broader European civilization. Our protest is getting stronger and stronger. We stay until the aim is reached!”