The embroiderer strikes back. Meet Ukraine's Darth Vader

Fri Dec 11, 2015 7:13am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Valentyn Ogirenko

ODESSA, Ukraine (Reuters) - Darth Vader was bent on galactic domination, but his Ukrainian namesake enjoys more mundane pursuits - local politics, walking the family dog and embroidery.

While audiences around the world have had to wait 10 years for the latest film in the Star Wars franchise - due to be released next week - residents of the Ukrainian port city of Odessa have become used to regular sightings of Lord Vader in his famous masked helmet and floor-length black cape.

A Reuters photo essay - - paints the picture: Vader on a bus, Vader patting his horse, Vader embroidering in his apartment, Vader's helmet on a shelf surrounded by Orthodox icons.

The Ukrainian citizen, who officially changed his name to Darth Mykolaiovych Vader, ran in October for the post of mayor, backed up by a phalanx of supporters dressed as Star Wars Stormtroopers.

The Sith Lord beat out more traditional candidates to place 15th out of 42 candidates in the mayoral race, while an online petition to appoint him prime minister later gained more than 25,000 signatures.

His popularity is probably less a result of any significant support for the Dark Side among average Ukrainians than a sign of public frustration with the political status quo amid economic crisis and a violent separatist conflict.

Some Odessa residents, meanwhile, clearly prefer the evil Galactic Empire to their Communist past. In October a local artist refashioned a monument to Soviet revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin into a statue of Darth Vader.

Asked about his plans for the future, Darth Mykolaiovych Vader said he was taking things slowly, but had not abandoned hope of gaining a top government job.   Continued...

Darth Mykolaiovych Vader, who is dressed as the Star Wars character Darth Vader, poses for a picture as he waits for sunrise on the roof of his apartment block in Odessa, Ukraine, December 4, 2015. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko