Ukraine: Darth Vaders run for parliament
Sixteen men named Darth Vader have registered to run in Ukraine's parliamentary elections.
They're among a number of candidates vying for seats in the 26 October polls who have registered under the name of Star Wars characters - including Grand Jedi Master Yoda and Chewbacca.
Their bid is supported by lavish amounts of roadside advertising strewn across Ukraine. One billboard features Chewbacca promising to "slap the hairy hand of corruption". On another, Darth Vader speaks out against war, apparently referring to the long-running crisis in eastern Ukraine. Their campaign also involves other Star Wars characters in full costume, such as imperial stormtroopers. Gearing up for the elections, they donated blood to sick children in June. "Now Ukrainian children will have some blood from fearless Stormtroopers running in their veins," said one Darth Vader.
Seven of the Darth Vaders, Yoda and Chewbacca were nominated for parliament by the Internet Party, which champions technological advancement and demands an end to corruption. To promote its goals, it is taking advantage of how easy it is to have one's name changed in Ukraine.
While the party's expensive campaign may look like part of a bizarre Star Wars cult, some have seen a sinister ploy to subvert democracy. "Who is spending so much money at a difficult time like this?" wondered journalist Maxim Scherbina recently. He claimed that the money may be coming from members of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych's entourage, who are desperate to return to power.
This is not the first time Darth Vader has stood for election in Ukraine. In April, a man going by that name tried running for presidency, but his application was rejected by the Central Electoral Commission. One official suggested that his campaign could be an attempt to make a mockery of elections in Ukraine - possibly by Russia.
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