Dressed in a skimpy leather costume, the Ukrainian contestant in this year's Eurovision Song Contest screamed and danced herself to the top Saturday, exciting Europeans with a mix of rock and ethnic music.
Ruslana, right, doing a bit of hair flipping.
After winning the competition ahead of Serbia and Montenegro and Greece, Ruslana Lyzichko said she hoped Europeans would get to know her country better when the contest comes to the Ukraine in 2005.
"I would like you to forget about Chernobyl," she said, referring to the 1986 nuclear accident.
Considered one of the top contenders to bring home the Eurovision trophy, Lyzichko banked on traditional melodies from the Carphathian mountains and an eye-catching performance to win over viewers. One of the Ukraine's most popular performers, she composed the music for Wild Dances herself.
Slightly unhappy with his eighth place for Can't Wait Until Tonight, Germany's Max Mutzke said he wasn't Ruslana's biggest fan but accept the viewers verdict.
Max Mutzke is seen during his performance on a large screen in his hometown of Waldshut in southwestern Germany. He'll be taking his oral high school exams this week before recording an album due out in the fall.
"It was more like a show-act," Max, who sang while sitting on a bar stool, told reporters. "But if it's recognized internationally, they should win. That's the way it should be."
Partipating in the competition for the first time since the break-up of Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro also went for folk flavor with a song called Lane Moje (My Sweetheart), one of the few titles not sung in English.
Hosted in Istanbul after Turkey's 2003 victory, the event took place under tight security precautions following suicide bomb attacks that killed 62 people in the city last November. The contest also gave police officers a change to practice for next month's NATO summit.