National Press Club

Pop star rocks as Ukraine peace advocate

March 6, 2014 | By Joseph Sparks |

Ukrainian singer-activist and protest leader Ruslana Lyzhychko accepts the traditional coffee mug from Club President Myron Belkind f March 5.

Ukrainian singer-activist and protest leader Ruslana Lyzhychko accepts the traditional coffee mug from Club President Myron Belkind f March 5.

Photo/Image: Al Teich

International pop star and social activist Ruslana Lyzhychko, known as Ruslana, urged journalists to find the truth and not believe Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian agents at a National Press Club Luncheon March 5.

She asked Russia to leave her native country, Ukraine, alone so that the crisis can be resolved peacefully.

Ruslana has appeared and performed from midnight to dawn almost every night since November on Kyiv’s Independence Square in the EuroMaidan mass protests, which challenge Russian interference in Ukrainian affairs.

Ruslana was honored March 4 as one of ten women to win the U.S. Department of State’s International Women of Courage Award. This award is presented annually to women who have demonstrated courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, gender equality, and social progress, often at great personal risk.

Ruslana said, “I too was getting threats and I was threatened to be killed if I didn’t leave protest square, and there were enough good people in the country who were able to give me shelter and keep me in hiding for two days.”

Nadia Komarnyckyj McConnell, Founder and the President of the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, introduced the singer.

Ruslana started with a message to Putin by saying, “There are a lot of people like me strong enough to keep peace,” but are willing to peacefully fight for “independence, for freedom, for democracy. Don’t touch Ukraine President Putin. Don’t give us a lot of pain.“

Ruslana went on to explain that she thought it part of Putin’s plan to kill a lot of people, cause violence and pain, and then she asked Putin to “please stop, stop army… We are ready for peace dialogue.”

She said that there is no problem with speaking Russian in the Ukraine contrary to the claims of Pres. Putin, and then repeated her message to Putin in Russian.

Ruslana continued with a message to the Ukrainian people, “Let’s unite. Let’s be together. It’s our power,” and repeated this message in her Ukrainian.

She said that there is not much conflict between the Russians and Ukrainian people and that Putin’s propaganda lies.

Ruslana pleaded with journalists to ‘not do bad things for money.” She said that Putin and the Russians are making false claims. The claims of fascism, Nazism and extremism are not true according to Ruslana. She urged journalists to come to the Ukraine and find out what really is going on and not believe or repeat what certain officials say without validating the information.

Ruslana was well known from her singing before she became a social activist. Her musical career started in 1996 when she won an international song festival. Since then, she has won more than 40 musical awards including the 2004 Eurovision song contest for her entry “Wild Dance.”

Following her musical career, Ruslana became active in social and political causes. She actively supported Ukraine’s 2004 “Orange Revolution,” and became the first United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) national ambassador in the Ukraine.

In 2008, Ruslana created the music video “Not For Sale” which she donated to the U.N.’s campaign against human trafficking. The song became the global anthem of the campaign.

Ruslana ended by singing a heartfelt rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem.