President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky will address viewers during the broadcast of the final night of the Sanremo Music Festival, Italy's highest-profile and longest-running music contest. This year's festival runs from February 7 to 11.
Journalist and presenter Bruno Vespa made the announcement live from Kiev during the January 15 episode of Domenica in, a program airing on public broadcaster Rai 1. (Mr. Vespa had traveled to Kiev to conduct an on-camera interview with Mr. Zelensky for the talk show Porta a Porta.)
The Ukrainian president's appearance at Sanremo — slated for February 11 — was confirmed by TV and radio presenter Amadeus, the festival's artistic director, conductor and host.
Speaking to the press at a pre-festival event, Amadeus said, “I spoke with Bruno Vespa last week because he told me he’d received a request from Zelensky to be present at the festival [...] I am happy to have this connection, and it is fitting that it is on the final evening.”
The speech by the Ukrainian leader will be pre-recorded to ensure there are no technical issues, but also “to place it at the most suitable moment of the evening,” Amadeus said.
Making the rounds
Since the early days of the war, Mr. Zelensky — a former actor and comedian — has gained worldwide recognition for his inspirational defiance against Russian forces that first invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
Seeking international support for his besieged country, Zelensky uses social media to its full effect, spreading a message of unity through various digital tools and platforms, often through direct-to-audience videos.
The Sanremo Festival, which will air nightly from February 7 to 11, is just the latest in Zelensky’s long lineup of ceremonial appearances. He has shared his message at the Cannes Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival, the Grammy Awards (from a bunker), and, most recently, the Golden Globes.
Mr. Zelensky also delivered 2022 addresses before the US Congress in December and the British Parliament in March.
Zelensky won't be the only public figure highlighting social issues at Sanremo. It was previously reported that entrepreneur and media personality Chiara Ferragni, this year's co-host for the festival's inaugural and final nights, would donate her presenter's fee to the Italian association D.I.RE (Donne in Rete Contro La Violenza), which works to eliminate violence against women.