The leader of the Okean Elzy rock band, Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, put an end to the discussions about his participation in the presidential elections of 2019. On Monday, January 28 in a special video message, he stated that he would not run for the presidency in 2019. However, Vakarchuk hinted that his refusal from balloting does not mean the absence of political ambitions. It is possible that he will try to become the Verkhovna Rada deputy for the second time.
Svyatoslav Vakarchuk is not new to the art of the possible. The first political campaign of the Okean Elzy frontman took place in 2007. His name was on the electoral list of Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense Bloc political party in the early parliamentary elections. By the quota of this political force, Svyatoslav Vakarchuk’s father, Ivan Vakarchuk, who for more than 20 years headed Ivan Franko University in Lviv, became the Minister of Education. The musician himself entered the Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information and, in his own words, took part in the development of some bills, in particular on the restriction of tobacco and alcohol advertising. A year later, Vakarchuk wrote a statement about giving up the deputy powers and then he left the building of the parliament.
For seven years the singer did not express public interest in the politics, but at the end of 2015 he suddenly became a fellow of the Yale World Fellow 2015 program, in which four months he studied politics, world leadership and international relations within Yale University in the United States. Rumours about the possible participation of the Okean Elzy frontman in the presidential election campaign began to spread in the internet. In political ciurcles, it was rumoured that the nomination of Vakarchuk as a candidate for this post was supported by a part of the American elites, because they saw in him a person who was not involved in corruption scandals and was respected by a certain part of the society. Allegedly, a businessman Viktor Pinchuk also “bet on” Vakarchuk.
Svyatoslav Vakarchuk himself, while not announcing his campaign in big politics, nevertheless began to appear in sociological polls devoted to presidential elections. Thus, in accordance with the sociological survey conducted in the autumn of 2017 by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, Razumkov Center, Sociological group "RATING" and the SOCIS Center, Vakarchuk, if elections were held at that time, was on the verge of entering the second round, losing to the former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko 2.3%.
However, the survey of Kyiv International Institute of Sociology conducted in summer of 2018 showed a significant drop in his rating. According to the obtained data, if the voting took place in June, about 6% of respondents would be ready to support the singer. In the same period, a number of media outlets reported that Vakarchuk would not participate in the presidential election.
For a long time, he himself maintained the intrigue regarding his participation in the elections. So, in 2017, commenting on his own high rating, Vakarchuk expressed doubts that people want to see him as president. However, at the YES forum in 2018, he noted that he was ready to return to politics. At the same time, he avoided answering the question about running for the president. "If you want to hear something certain - be a little patient," he said then.
Then there were months of melodrama called "I will go - I will not go," "if you want, then I will go," and so on. And on the morning of January 28, 2019, Vakarchuk stopped questions regarding his presidential ambitions in 2019.
"In order to dot the i's, and stop all the questions, I officially declare: “I, Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, will not take part in the presidential elections of 2019," he said. The rest of the race participants at that moment sighed in relief.
At the same time, the leader of the band added that he “would work on bringing more professionals to the authority”.
“I will work hard along with my team so that the pro-European powers win. I will work on bringing more young professionals to the authority – to bring people of the future, people who put justice and the state’s interests first. I believe that real changes are possible,” he added.
Therefore, one might suppose that Vakarchuk does not refuse from the politics, and probably he will take part in the parliamentary elections in autumn.
Why did Vakarchuk decide not to run for the presidency? According to one version, Vakarchuk was working with the current president primarily, and he would run for presidency if Poroshenko’s headquarters regarded that the current head of state did not have any chance to get into the second round. Another version was published by a political advisor Mykhaylo Chaplyha (close to Yuliya Tymoshenko) on Facebook. He stated that it was about an alleged dirt on Vakarchuk.
Meanwhile, some serious “fight” on the support of candidates at the presidential elections by Vakarchuk takes place. Rumour grew that the musician will supposedly support the nomination of current president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko for the second term. According to MP Serhiy Leshchenko, Poroshenko promise to adopt a law on the parliamentary elections on the open lists in the exchange for such support. Moreover, people say that frontman of Okean Elzy will get the political prospects in the Verkhovna Rada. The date of the announcement of the support is not revealed yet. However, the press service of Vakarchuk reported that this information does not correspond to the truth. In his turn, MP from Petro Poroshenko Bloc Mustafa Nayyem expressed the hope on Facebook that Okean Elzy leader will support the nomination of “the single candidate at the presidential elections from opposition democratic forces”.
“The single candidate at the presidential elections from opposition democratic forces should be determined by Anatoly Hrytsenko and Andry Sadovy. I am sure, Svyatoslav Vakarchuk will support any of them if they agree,” Nayyem wrote.
Sadovy expressed his thoughts first: “I respect the position of Svyatoslav. I know that he very seriously takes the political steps. My offer on the unifying the efforts for the parliamentary elections is relevant. Together we will be able to change the face of the Ukrainian policy very quickly.”
It is not excluded that Vakarchuk will make his choice according to the results of the candidates at the elections of the president.