In Italy, Volodymyr Zelensky’s intervention at the legendary Sanremo music festival sparks controversy over Ukraine war


Letters from Rome

Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has become a regular at cultural ceremonies: He has spoken via video at Cannes, Venice and even the Golden Globes. However, his possible appearance at the Italian Song Festival in Sanremo has caused controversy in Italy since January 17. On the peninsula, where support for Ukraine is divided compared with the rest of Europe, the man who has represented the Ukrainian resistance for almost a year does not enjoy unanimous popularity in public opinion.

In Italy, the Sanremo Festival is an institution, an unrivaled annual event. Because of its importance in Italian life, it has always caused arguments, disagreements and quarrels. 2023 edition of events, 73rd editionelectronic Since its inception in post-war Italy on Tuesday 7 February, this one has been embroiled in an international political debate sparked by an invitation on 17 January from TV legend Italian Bruno Vespa. Kyiv. The host invited Mr Zelensky to the festival by recording a segment for an Italian audience. Its broadcast is scheduled for the closing night of the festival on Saturday, February 11.

Mr Zelensky’s involvement in that great national moment, in which millions gather each year in front of televisions for a four-night contest between young singers, sparked an immediate resurgence in the wake of friction over sanctions. Italy’s debate over Ukraine war divided against Russia and insistence on sending Italian arms to Kyiv.

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Backing Putin’s return to the offensive

In the political landscape, figures who famously supported Putin’s Russia before the war and remained ambiguous on Ukraine are back on the offensive. Council Vice-President Matteo Salvini (Alliance, far right) declared against the intervention of the Ukrainian head of state. “We hope that Sanremo will continue to be a festival of Italian songs and nothing more”, Sky News Italia quoted him as saying. Its allies in the coalition are historically linked to Russian interests in the country if the head of administration, Georgia Meloni (Italian Brotherhood, far right), assures Kyiv of Italy’s unwavering support.

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