Oct 26, 2012 / 5:55 am
An extravagantly dressed pop diva, a retired football star, the son of a famous actor, an opposition leader suspiciously cozy with the government. Meet some members of the eclectic cast running in Sunday's parliamentary election in Ukraine.
Ukrainian political parties have brought in celebrities or even created fake opposition in an effort to boost their ratings and split their rivals' vote. Such tactics raise questions about Ukraine's commitment to democracy and its hopes of integrating with the West.
The two main pro-Western opposition parties hope to challenge President Viktor Yanukovych's nearly three-year grip on power. They aim to wrestle the parliamentary majority away from his Party of Regions and undo actions that have been judged undemocratic by the West, such as the imprisonment of charismatic former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
The Party of Regions has tried to raise its profile by offering the No. 2 spot on its candidate list to pop diva Taisia Povaliy, which guarantees her a seat in Ukraine's parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. The 47-year-old blonde, who wears low-cut, floor-length gowns and sings about the pain of lost love, acknowledges that politics had never been her calling.
"I never thought that I would run for parliament, I never planned it. And then I discovered that people, the people themselves, want me to represent them," Povaliy said on a TV celebrity gossip program. "What difference does it make if I work on stage or in the Verkhovna Rada?"
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