Ukrainian singer and frontman of renowned rock band Okean Elzy Svyatoslav Vakarchuk has announced that he will be running in the 2019 Parliamentary Election. Vakarchuk told Hromadske that the aim of his political party Golos (Voice) is to "change the political culture” in the country.
“I think that today is very important to change the political culture. The old political culture and the old rules of the game must go. New political culture and new political rules must come. I’m sure that our team will do it,” Vakarchuk said.
Despite announcing that the full list of the party's members will not be known until the party's first congress, some team members have already been announced on May 16. They include former deputy minister of justice Yulia Klymenko, former executive director of Transparency International Ukraine Yaroslav Yurchyshyn, Donbas war veteran Andriy Sharaskin, and former head of the Odesa Regional State Administration Solomiia Bobrovska.
Vakarchuk described his party as the party of “people who have different moral principles.”
"Believe me, people who stand on the stage are completely different people. We are sure we will succeed. But this will only be possible when all people, all Ukrainians, sincerely want changes and support us as political force and then we will sincerely offer these changes from the heart," Vakarchuk told Hromadske.
Rumors about Vakarchuk going into politics again (he briefly served as an MP in the post-Orange Revolution Ukraine) started ahead of the March presidential election. The socially and politically active singer was a stern supporter of Ukraine's two recent revolutions: the Orange Revolution in 2004 and Euromaidan in 2013-2014.
This interest was then cemented by Vakarchuk's co-founding of the Center of Economic Strategy (CES) in 2015. CES’ job is to study state politics with their main task centered around supporting reforms in Ukraine. Many viewed Vakarchuk as a potential presidential candidate and his name even appeared in opinion polls ahead of the election. However, on January 28, Vakarchuk announced that he would not be running.
On May 16, Vakarchuk at what looked like an impromptu event in uptown Kyiv announced the launch of his political party Golos.
It is unclear whether Vakarchuk's Golos would stand in opposition to President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Vakarchuk avoided a direct answer, only saying:
"If the president suggests changes, we will demand even bigger changes."