Destinations Magazine

Front Man

By Stizzard
Front man Unacknowledged legislator

THE crowds in Mariupol, a factory town on the front line in eastern Ukraine, began lining up at six in the morning. It was late spring, and the rock group Okean Elzy were playing. “You might only see them once in your life,” said a young boy in line. Some 30,000 people turned out to see the band and its front man, Svyatoslav Vakarchuk (pictured). “He’s now the voice of the younger generation, the voice of the agents of change,” says Yaroslav Hrytsak, a Ukrainian historian.

Mr Vakarchuk is the son of a physicist from Lviv in western Ukraine, and his most significant recent performance was not a concert but a speech marking his return to the political arena. (He served a one-year stint in parliament between 2007 and 2008.)

Taking a stand against the identity politics that Ukrainian leaders have long used to distract from failed reforms, Mr Vakarchuk articulated a vision of Ukrainian identity for the 21st century. “We need to stop building a state based on blood patriotism, and begin building a state based on constitutional patriotism,” he declared. “We shouldn’t be united by a common…

The Economist: Europe

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