Svyatoslav Vakarchuk

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Svyatoslav Vakarchuk
Святослав Вакарчук
Svyatoslav Vakarchuk Independence Day Reception, Kyiv, Ukraine, July 1, 2016.jpg
Svyatoslav Vakarchuk in 2016
Background information
Birth nameSviatoslav Ivanovych Vakarchuk
Born (1975-05-14) May 14, 1975 (age 44)
Mukachevo, Zakarpattia Oblast, Ukrainian SSR (now Ukraine)
Occupation(s)Singer, politician
Years active1994–present
Associated actsOkean Elzy

Svyatoslav Vakarchuk (Ukrainian: Святослав Іванович Вакарчук, born May 14, 1975) is a Ukrainian politician, musician and public activist. He is the lead vocalist of Okean Elzy, the most successful rock band in Ukraine. Formerly a member of the Ukrainian parliament, he launched a new political party, called Voice, in May 2019.[1]

Vakarchuk was active in supporting the Orange Revolution and Euromaidan-protests, and is involved in many social and cultural projects. He is one of the most successful musicians in Ukraine and has a PhD degree in theoretical physics.

Vakarchuk is the son of Ivan Vakarchuk, a professor of physics at Lviv University and a former Ukrainian Minister of Education and Science.


Vakarchuk was born in the western Ukrainian city of Mukachevo, into a family of scientists.[2] His mother and father were both university professors of physics.[2] His father Ivan Vakarchuk is also former Education Minister.[3]

Vakarchuk founded the band Okean Elzy ("Ocean of Elza"), in 1994 as an undergraduate at Lviv University.[2] At this university he earned a Ph.D. in the field of supersymmetry.[2] After graduating Vakarchuk moved to Kiev.[2]

In 2005, Vakarchuk answered all questions correctly and won the grand prize (1 million hryvnias) for the first time on the Ukrainian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, called Khto khoche staty milyonerom? – Pershyi milyon. He donated his winnings to orphanages in Ukraine.[4]

In the early 30 September 2007 parliamentary election, he ran as an independent candidate on the Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense Bloc's list (as No. 15). In the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) he was a member of the parliamentary committee for freedom of speech issues. He was also a member of groups of parliamentary contacts with the Russian Federation and other countries.[5] Vakarchuk did not submit any legislative acts during his deputy's term. He submitted two amendments, one of which was accepted by the Verkhovna Rada.[6] In early September 2008, he renounced his seat in the Verkhovna Rada due to the political situation.[7] On December 16, 2008, the Verkhovna Rada accepted Vakarchuk's renunciation.[8] According to Vakarchuk, he renounced his seat because “I was really frustrated by the level of mutual fights, at the absurd Hobbesian world of all against all, rather than changing the country for the better.”[2]

Svyatoslav Vakarchuk in Kharkiv,
Ukraine on April 19, 2008

In 2008, Vakarchuk released a solo project "Vnochi" (In the Night). This album was released under the name of Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, but it includes appearances by all members of Okean Elzy and other various guest musicians. Another solo project followed in 2011, "Brussel" (Brussels).

In support of their album "Zemlya" in spring 2013, the band embarked on a stadium tour throughout cities in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, the US, Canada, and a number of countries in Western Europe.

In December 2013, Okean Elzy performed during the Euromaidan protests.[9]

In the summer of 2014, Okean Elzy performed a number of large concerts in the biggest stadiums in Ukraine to mark the band's 20th anniversary. Their performance in Kiev's Olympiyskiy Stadium broke the record for the largest number of people attending a concert by a Ukrainian band — over 75,000.

In 2015, Vakarchuk took part in the Yale World Fellows international fellowship program at Yale University.[3]

Vakarchuk stated multiple times in 2017 that he had no political ambitions.[10] However, in 2018 he joined Stanford University as a visiting scholar,[11] focusing on politics and leadership. Later that year he appeared at several politically-themed conferences, speaking alongside established Ukrainian politicians.[12] This led the public to view him as a potential candidate for the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election, where he became one of the frontrunners according to opinion polls. But by late 2018 he was overtaken by other potential candidates, and in October 2018 he stated “Who can change the political culture is more important than who becomes the president.”[13][nb 1] In the election Vakarchuk did not back any of the candidates.[15][16] According to an early March 2019 poll by sociological group "RATING", 64% of the electorate would have liked to see Vakarchuk among the presidential candidates.[17]

Vakarchuk also plays an active role in social and cultural projects, and is the founder of the charity foundation "Lyudi Maybutnyoho" (People of the Future). The main projects of the foundation were "Knyga Tvoryt' Lyudynu" (A Book Creates a Man), "Osvita Krainoyu" (The Country's Education), "3-D Proekt. Dumay, Diy, Dopomagai." (3-D Project. Think, Act. Help.). Together with the members of the band he actively supported the preventive campaign IOM and MTV Europe's "People Are Not For Sale." In 2003, Vakarchuk became an Honorary Ambassador of Culture in Ukraine. In 2005, he became a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme.

On 16 May 2019, Vakarchuk announced the creation of a new political party, Voice (Holos), which is expected to participate in the country's forthcoming legislative elections.[18] Vakarchuk assured on 19 May 2019 that if elected to parliament, he would not stop playing music, but political activity would be a priority.[19] He also claimed that he believed that currently the Ukrainian parliament is the place "where real changes are being made" so he did not participate in the presidential election of the previous month.[19]. Vakarchuk was elected to the Verkhovna Rada in 2019.[20] His party gained 5.82% of the vote.[21]

The Ukrainian magazine Korrespondent has ranked him as one of the 100 most influential people in Ukraine (in 2008 ranked 55).[22]

Vakarchuk speaks Ukrainian, Russian, English and Polish fluently.


Vakarchuk has released nine studio albums together with his band, Okean Elzy:

and also one live acoustic album Tviy format (Your Format, 2003).


  1. ^ In January 2019, Ukrayinska Pravda commented that Vakarchuk was not going to go to take part in the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election but that his likely goal was to participate in parliamentary elections.[14]


  1. ^ Вакарчук заявив про створення партії і похід у Раду. (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f For His Next Act, a Ukrainian Rock Star Looks to Politics, The New York Times (14 September 2018)
  3. ^ a b Vakarchuk to study at Yale as third Ukrainian fellow, Kyiv Post (April 23, 2015)
  4. ^ Вакарчук трішки побув мільйонером
  5. ^ "Офіційний портал Верховної Ради України". Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  6. ^ "Офіційний портал Верховної Ради України". Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  7. ^ "Солист "Океана Эльзы" отказался от депутатского мандата". 2008-09-11. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
  8. ^ "Про дострокове припинення повноважень народного депутата У... | від 16.12.2008 № 664-VI". Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  9. ^ Ukraine suspends mayor, security official over protest crackdown, Zee News (14 December 2013)
  10. ^ President Vakarchuk: The musician spoke about political ambitions, Ekspres (26 August 2017) (in Ukrainian)
    Vakarchuk broke away from political ambitions, but called 10 points for Ukraine's development, Ukrayinska Pravda (10 December 2017) (in Ukrainian)
  11. ^ "Sviatoslav Vakarchuk joins Stanford as a visiting scholar this fall". Retrieved 2018-09-18.
  12. ^ "Vakarchuk presents at Yalta YES conference". Retrieved 2018-09-18.
  13. ^ 5 months before voting, race for president well under way (November 2, 2018)
  14. ^ Vakarchuk about the election: I'm in action, Ukrayinska Pravda (23 January 2019) (in Ukrainian)
  15. ^ "Musician Vakarchuk says he doesn't plan to back any Ukrainian presidential candidate". Retrieved 2019-03-24.
  16. ^ "Гриценко вважає, що Вакарчук має публічно висловити свою позицію на цих виборах". (in Ukrainian). Retrieved 2019-03-24.
  17. ^ (in Ukrainian) 20% of Ukrainians would like Vakarchuk to go to the presidency, Ukrayinska Pravda (11 March 2019)
  18. ^ "Rock Star Vakarchuk Sets Up Political Party Ahead Of Ukraine's General Elections". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 2019-05-16.
  19. ^ a b (in Ukrainian) Vakarchuk: There will be no acting deputies in the list of new party, Ukrayinska Pravda (May 19, 2019)
  20. ^ "Verkhovna Rada Deputies List".
  21. ^ "Центральна виборча комісія - Вибори народних депутатів України 2019". Retrieved 2019-10-02.
  22. ^ Korrespondent 2008-08-22, nr 32.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
New title
Most beautiful by VIVA!
With: Ani Lorak
Succeeded by
Oleksandr Shovkovsky