Ruslana debuts new song in front of Ukrainian refugees at Eurovision in Liverpool

19 May, 08:30 PM


Author: Lee Reaney

Ruslana spoke with NV English after premiering a track from the upcoming ‘Wild Heart’ – her first studio album since 2013. 

After spending a decade mostly out of the spotlight, Ruslana is back – and looking as good as ever.

Fitting into the same outfit that she wore 19 years ago when she became Ukraine’s very first Eurovision winner with the song ‘Wild Dances,’ Ruslana put on an energetic show in front of thousands of adoring fans – including several Ukrainian refugees – at the Eurovision 2023 EuroVillage fan zone in Liverpool, UK.

Video of day

 But it was her announcement that she would be releasing a new album – and that she’d be performing a track from it for the first time – that really shook the audience.

 “The situation in Ukraine is still very dramatic. A lot of my friends were killed,” she told the audience in the lead-up to the announcement.

“Even when a dark country tries to destroy Ukraine, we never give up!”, she said to raucous cheers from the fans.

“When this dark country tried to destroy our energy infrastructure, I used that time to create my music. With no electricity, with no energy source whatsoever, I created this music – because I’m from Ukraine.”

In exclusive comments to NV, she announced that the album will be released “soon, in a couple of weeks, we’ll be presenting it in Ukraine.”

“From my heart,” she told the audience in Liverpool, “a new song from my new album called ‘Wild Heart.”

The over three-minute song uses geographical imagery to talk about ideas like hope and belief.

You can check out the exclusive video below.

Refugees Rock Out to Ruslana

Noticeable at the center of the front row in the crowd of thousands were two young Ukrainian refugees – sisters from near Bucha, Yaroslava Selivonchyk and Vladyslava Kuzmenko.

They were among the lucky 3,000 that had won a lottery to get tickets to Eurovision – and took a long journey to the center of the action.

The sisters fled their home from between Bucha and Kyiv – one of the most dangerous areas in the early days of Russia’s invasion, as it sits on the same highway as the kilometers-long column of Russian tanks took on their march toward Kyiv.

“Every night we spent in a bomb shelter. Every day, every night, we heard a lot of bombs. There were a lot of planes over our village. It was super dangerous. We were so nervous. We had a lot of panic attacks, really,” said the 21-year-old Selivonchyk.

The pair decided to flee just 10 days after Russia’s invasion began.

“It was very dangerous and chaotic. You had no idea what would happen,” recalled Kuzmenko.

It was a good thing they did – with Bucha becoming synonymous with the atrocities the Russian army continues to perpetrate in Ukraine.

“We didn’t have anything when we arrived in England – just the clothes on our backs. We wanted to start a new life without bombs, without air raid sirens. It was very hard to leave our country, our friends, and our families. We are happy that everyone in our family is still alive.”

The sisters settled into a new life far from home. Both continued their studies in Ukraine, Selivonchyk in law and Kuzmenko in medicine, while they volunteered to help various organizations and initiatives back home.

“We wanted to help Ukraine win, so we worked with different projects and organizations just to support Ukrainians and our military forces, because we understand how important it is to win. It’s really about our independence, it’s about our freedom, it’s about our way of life,” said Selivonchyk.

“We want to give a big thanks to our military, our air defense forces – they are doing everything to save our country. It’s only because of them that we are able to go back very soon,” said Kuzmenko.

“You could never imagine that in your country – after being independent for 25 years or more (32 years in August – ed.) – there could be war,” recalled Kuzmenko.

The sisters were excited to win tickets to Eurovision – and for the chance to see Ruslana live, working their way to the front of the audience to see the Ukrainian pop icon up close.

“We were infants when Ruslana won, so we don’t remember that show,” Selivonchyk said.

“We grew up with her music; it makes you want to get up and dance,” said Kuzmenko.

And dance they did – at the head of thousands of British fans watching the woman that launched Ukraine’s grand Eurovision adventure all the way back in 2004.

“The show was so fun,” the sisters agreed. “She has so much energy!”

From darkness, a comeback is born

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Ruslana recognizes the difficulties facing Ukrainian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

 “Russia has turned Ukraine into a dark country, a kind of black hole that consumes life, energy, light – anything beautiful,” she told NV English in an exclusive interview.

“They tried to take our energy and they failed. They will never be able to achieve that.”

Rather than dishearten Ukrainians, or turn them against their own government, Russia’s missile strikes have brought Ukrainians closer together.

And led to a wealth of inspiration.

“It’s important to show them (Russians) that we can still make new songs, that we can still create – despite the ongoing war,” Ruslana told NV English.

“That’s what I’ve attempted to do – to empower my country, the best way I know how.”

Besides composing the music, Ruslana looks as fit as ever, proudly rocking the same outfit that she wore for her winning Eurovision performance in 2004. Her high-energy dance routines demand a good level of cardio, which Ruslana made sure to showcase.

“Feel me!”, she instructed the presenter after her set, taking the presenter’s hand and having her poke her flexed abs and drawing cheers from the crowd.

Seeing the thousands in the crowd proudly waving UK and Ukrainian flags, Ukraine’s Eurovision 2004 winner was reminded of the theme of Eurovision 2023, which the UK is hosting on Ukraine’s behalf.

 “My sisters and brothers – this is only for you, from my heart,” she said while announcing that she’d be performing her new song.

“Especially this song, for this amazing moment – to unite all of us: United by Music.”

Ukrainians can expect the release of Ruslana’s first album since 2003 in the “coming weeks.”

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