Ukraine parliament election: Rock star bids to be MP after comedian becomes president

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By Natalia Liubchenkova
Ukraine parliament election: Rock star bids to be MP after comedian becomes president
Copyright  Reuters

Sviatoslav Vakarchuk, the frontman of one of Ukraine’s most successful rock bands, Okean Elzy, is heading up his own political party to run in the parliamentary elections this autumn.

Vakarchuk revealed his party "Holos" (Voice) manifesto, pitching it as the pro-European choice for Ukraine, touting an economy without oligarchs, and promising to hold the authorities to account.

A former deputy minister of economy, Yuliya Klymenko, and former director of Transparency International in Ukraine, Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, are among those joining the rockstar's team.

His campaign's headquarters is located in central Kyiv.

“The party is predominantly supported by people and small businesses. We will not take a penny from the oligarchs,” Vakarchuk said on a video posted on the Facebook page of “Chesno", a civil movement that emerged in late 2011, advocating a fair election process.

Ukraine's rock music scene won't miss out due to Vakarchuk turning to politics — he does not plan to quit Okean Elzy.

Vakarchuk has degrees in physics and international economics, as well as being a fellow and a visiting scholar at Yale and Stanford universities.

His appearance on the political scene is not a complete surprise, as last autumn many expected him to take on comedian Volodymyr Zelensky in the presidential election race, with opinion polls showing he was popular but Vakarchuk confirmed he was not participating.

Shortly before the elections that saw Zelensky claim victory power, Vakarchuk published a video in which he asked people “not to vote for fun”.

The rockstar was also among many Ukrainian celebrities who participated in The Orange Revolution, which started in late November 2004 and continued into January 2005, protesting electoral fraud and corruption.

He was subsequently elected as a member of the Ukrainian parliament during snap elections in 2007 but gave up his seat after around a year.