Svyatoslav Vakarchuk

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Svyatoslav Vakarchuk
Святослав Вакарчук
Svyatoslav Vakarchuk 2016.jpg
Svyatoslav Vakarchuk in 2016
Background information
Birth nameSviatoslav Ivanovych Vakarchuk
Born (1975-05-14) May 14, 1975 (age 43)
Mukachevo, Zakarpattia Oblast, Ukrainian SSR (now Ukraine)
Years active1994–present
Associated actsOkean Elzy

Slava Vakarchuk (Ukrainian: Святосла́в Іва́нович Вакарчу́к, born May 14, 1975) is the lead vocalist of Okean Elzy, the most successful post-Soviet rock band in Ukraine. In 2007 he was also, for roughly one year, a member of the Ukrainian parliament.

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 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 Mukachevo, in western Ukraine, raised in a family of scientists.[1] His mother and father were both university professors of physics.[1] His father Ivan Vakarchuk is also former Education Minister.[2]

Vakarchuk founded the band Okean Elzy ("Ocean of Elza"), in 1994 as an undergraduate at Lviv University.[1] At this university he earned a Ph.D. in the field of supersymmetry.[1] After graduation Vakarchuk moved to Kiev.[1]

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.[3]

In the early 30 September 2007 parliamentary election he appeared as an independent candidate on the Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense Bloc's list (as nr 15). In the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament) he was a member of the parliamentary committee for freedom of speech questions. In early September 2008, he renounced his seat in the Verkhovna Rada due to the political situation.[4] Vakarchuk was a member of the parliamentary committee for freedom of speech questions. He was also a member of groups of parliamentary contacts with 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] On December 16, 2008, the Verkhovna Rada accepted Vakarchuk's renunciation from his seat in the parliament due to his personal motion.[7] According to Vakarchuk he renounced his parliamentary 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.”[1]

Svyatoslav Vakarchuk in Moscow,
Russia on March 21, 2008.[nb 1]

In 2008, Svyatoslav 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 latest album "Zemlya" in spring 2013, the band embarked on a stadium tour throughout cities in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, USA, Canada, and a number of countries in Western Europe.

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

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

In 2015 Vakarchuk took part in the Yale World Fellows international fellowship program at Yale University.[2]

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 political-themed conferences, speaking alongside established Ukrainian politicians [12]. This led public to view him as a potential candidate for the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election, where he became one of the frontrunners according to the 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 2]

Vakarchuk also takes an active part in social and cultural projects, and is the founder of the Charity Fund "Lyudi Maybutnyogo" (People of the Future). The main projects of the Fund were "Knyga Tvoryt' Lyudynu" (A Book Creates A Man), "Osvita Krainoyu" (The Country's Education), "3-D Proekt. Dumay, Diy, Dopomogai." (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 Svyatoslav had become an Honorary Ambassador of Culture in Ukraine. In 2005 he became a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme.

The Ukrainian magazine Korrespondent ranks him as one of the 100 most influential people of Ukraine (in 2008 ranked 55).[15]

Svyatoslav Vakarchuk speaks Ukrainian, Russian, English and Polish fluently.


By the year 2016, he had released 9 studio albums together with his band, Okean Elzy:

and also one (1) acoustic album Tviy format (Your format, 2003).


  1. ^ Following the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea Okean Elzy stopped performing in Russia.[8]
  2. ^ 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. ^ a b c d e f For His Next Act, a Ukrainian Rock Star Looks to Politics, The New York Times (14 September 2018)
  2. ^ a b Vakarchuk to study at Yale as third Ukrainian fellow, Kyiv Post (April 23, 2015)
  3. ^ Вакарчук трішки побув мільйонером
  4. ^ "Солист "Океана Эльзы" отказался от депутатского мандата". 2008-09-11. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
  5. ^ "Офіційний портал Верховної Ради України". Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  6. ^ "Офіційний портал Верховної Ради України". Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  7. ^ "Про дострокове припинення повноважень народного депутата У... | від 16.12.2008 № 664-VI". Retrieved 2018-04-06.
  8. ^
  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. ^ Korrespondent 2008-08-22, nr 32.

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