Ukrainian Eurovision pop star becomes voice of protest
By Alissa de Carbonnel
MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Ukrainian Eurovision song contest winner is pushing her voice to the limit belting out songs nightly to keep up the morale of protesters camped out a snowy Kiev square - the unlikely figurehead of movement to oust President Viktor Yanukovich.
Ruslana Lyzhychko won with a song "Wild Dances" in 2004, becoming Ukraine's only Eurovision winner. For political elites that contest may seem a celebration of inanity, but for Ukrainians dreaming of a European future it brought recognition before a huge continental audience.
"Last night was a record for me - eight hours on stage," Lyzhychko told Reuters. "People look to me and they also stay."
The long nights in freezing temperatures have taken their toll. She looked worn to the bone, her face bare of makeup and hair disheveled, sucking throat lozenges as she whisked into the opposition's improvised HQ for another night.
Lyzhychko, her petite form belying a powerful deep voice, has been on stage virtually all night, every night in more than two weeks since protesters occupied the main square, enraged by Yanukovich's decision to scrap an EU trade deal and move the former Soviet republic closer to Moscow.
"She is fantastic. She is our voice, our soul, our face and our inspiration and our endurance," said activist Yegor Sobolev, draped in a yellow-blue Ukrainian flag.
Although she has become a hero to protesters camped out inside the barricades, not everyone shares their qualms about the beckoning of powerful northern neighbor Russia.
"When Ruslana won the Eurovision, we were proud of her... but now it is shameful," a reader from the largely Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainian region of Donbass commented in a local newspaper. "I am ashamed of Ruslana." Continued...