Division at the Sanremo festival over a message from the Ukrainian leader

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Starting tonight, Italy faces a new edition of the Sanremo festival, a week in which emerging talents and old stars of light song parade through the set of RAI (public television), which is already a national symbol with audiences stratospheric. As every year, the contest is not without controversy. This time, for the forecast of including a message from the Ukrainian president, Volodimir Zelensky, which has generated much criticism and has become an intense political debate.

Initially, Zelenski was going to make a video message next Saturday, the final of the contest, when the winner who will represent Italy in Eurovision will be known. But yesterday RAI's entertainment director, Stefano Coletta, announced that he will not finally send a video, but a “short” text, which will be read at the gala by the festival's artistic director, Amadeus. "The president told us through his ambassador that he would be happy to send me a letter and for me to read it on stage," the presenter said at a press conference.

Everything arose as a result of an interview that the influential presenter Bruno Vespa conducted in January with Zelenski, who expressed interest in speaking during the festival as he already did during the last celebration of the Golden Globes or the Venice Film Festival. But the possibility created an enormous storm in Italy, so much so that an online petition to curb participation has collected more than 95,000 signatures. Numerous politicians have been against it, starting with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure, Matteo Salvini – who in the past had shown his admiration for Vladimir Putin – who considered that the festival should stick to entertainment and not talk about " war and death”. “The Sanremo stage? It should be reserved for music. I expect songs from the Italian song festival, not something else," said the leader of the League. “Zelensky? I don't know how he sings, I have other preferences,” he added sarcastically.

"Zelenski will not make a video at the Italian festival of Sanremo"

“I was very happy when the president of the Chamber of Deputies took the initiative to invite President Zelensky to confront the Italian Parliament to express his reasons and those of his people to the Italians. On the other hand, frankly I do not think it is so necessary for President Zelenski to be in a light context like that of Sanremo”, agreed the leader of the 5 Star Movement, Giuseppe Conte, opposed to sending more weapons to Ukraine.

The sudden change of plans has also reached Moscow. “Zelenski will not make a video at the Italian Sanremo festival, but he will send a statement, the organizers have said. Well I do not know. Is he suddenly going to win the song contest with a rap? ”, Wrote the spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, María Zajárova. The Sanremo Festival each year seeks the impact with well-known characters, and already in 1999 it welcomed the Russian Mikhail Gorbachev.

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