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Ukrainian singer Ruslana honoured for bravery by Michelle Obama

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Mar 06, 2014 | 12:08pm EST

Ukrainian pop star Ruslana has been honoured by U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama for her bravery after performing for political protestors in the troubled capital city of Kiev. The singer, a former member of the Ukrainian parliament, was invited to attend the International Women of Courage Awards in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday (04Mar14), when she was presented with the accolade, which celebrates the work of females around the globe who have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace and equal rights issues. Ruslana, who won the Eurovision Song Contest for the Ukraine in 2004, was chosen as one of 2014's 10 honourees after spending months alongside Kiev demonstrators calling for change through the power of song. Tensions in the country escalated in recent weeks and violent clashes between activists and police in Kiev prompted former leader Viktor Yanukovych to go into hiding. He was replaced by parliamentary speaker Alexander Turchinov as acting president. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has sparked fears he is attempting to quash Ukrainian citizens' calls for political reform and alignment with the European Union after sending armed troops to the Crimea region of the country last week (ends28Feb14). The move has been condemned by officials in the U.S. and Europe. The musician, born Ruslana Lyzychko, has since called on her fellow countrymen and women to stand strong against the Russian invasion and continue to fight for their political beliefs. She tells the BBC, "Everybody understands now that Ukraine is in danger. All Ukrainians (who are) strong enough, unite... Let's stop this war."

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