Former 00s pop sensation and LGBTQ+ icon Julia Volkova has launched her latest unexpected career sidestep — by campaigning to join Russia’s parliament. The 36-year-old is running to represent the country’s ruling United Russia party in the city of Ivanovo at the primaries for the autumn parliamentary elections.
Wearing a sparkling diamond cross as a pendant, Volkova says in her campaign video that she wants “to change the attitude of those in power towards people.”
The Moscow-born celebrity goes on to list problems facing Ivanovo: from poor infrastructure and a lack of jobs, to declining industry, and government corruption. Volkova neither explains the role of United Russia (which has controlled a parliamentary majority since 2007) in these problems, nor does she provide solutions — at least for now.
“Yes, I was not a politician in the past, but as we know, one is not born a politician — one becomes one,” she says, while also admitting to “past sins” (despite not elaborating on what they might be.) The singer does, however, use the tagline “They’re Not Gonna Get Us”, the chorus of her 2001 t.A.T.u. hit.
In an interview for Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, political analyst Alexander Kynev said that Volkova’s candidature was an attempt to “carnivalise” the elections and distract attention from issues such as the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexey Navany. “The promotion of once popular performers who shoot funny videos on the verge of political trash distracts attention. That is, instead of discussing the topic of repression and unfair election rules, from which real candidates are barred, citizens are invited to talk about how ridiculous these videos are. It’s is an attempt to litter the media arena with political tinsel.”
Founded in 1999 and disbanded in 2011, t.A.T.u rose to international fame in the early 2000s, when Volkova and her bandmate, Lena Katina, were still teenagers. The video for their hit, “All the Things She Said” caused a stir in 2002 by portraying the singers as a lesbian couple, dressed in school uniforms, sharing a rain-drenched kiss.