Mr. Vakarchuk founded his band, called Oceans of Elza, in 1994 as an undergraduate at Lviv University, where he went on to earn a Ph.D. in a field of particle physics known as supersymmetry, or SUSY — the theory that shortcomings in what is known as the standard model of energy and matter in the universe will ultimately be explained by particles that have not yet been detected.
By the time he graduated, Oceans of Elza was popular enough that Mr. Vakarchuk moved to Kiev, the capital, and became a professional musician, leaving science behind but entitling his fourth album “Supersymmetry.” In it, he sings a song called “Susy” about a woman whom he begs in one verse, “don’t hide your illusions” from me.
Over 24 years, Oceans of Elza has released 10 albums, turning out the soundtracks for the teenage love affairs, revolutions and wars of a generation of Ukrainians — and providing Mr. Vakarchuk vast name recognition with voters.
Ukraine, unlike Russia, has a free if chaotic political system able to elevate new leaders with new approaches to the country’s multiple problems, not least the war with Russian-backed separatists that has divided eastern Ukraine. Lifting sanctions and “getting along with Russia,” as President Trump has said he would like to do, hinges on a resolution in Ukraine.
Already in the past decade, Ukraine has been led by a colorful cohort of presidents: Viktor A. Yushchenko, whose face was disfigured in a suspected Russian poisoning with dioxin, rendering him an almost medieval figure of suffering; Viktor F. Yanukovych, a venal autocrat who kept a private zoo; and the current leader, Petro O. Poroshenko, a chocolate factory owner known as the Willy Wonka of Ukraine.
After the Orange Revolution of 2004, Mr. Vakarchuk served briefly in Parliament but quit to protest infighting between President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia V. Tymoshenko within the pro-Western camp.
“I was really frustrated by the level of mutual fights, at the absurd Hobbesian world of all against all, rather than changing the country for the better,” he said of this initial foray into politics.