- by Paul Seddon
- political reporter
Rishi Snak is “disappointed” that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has not been allowed to speak at Eurovision this year, a spokesman for the president said.
The organizers of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) say it is against political impartiality.
But Downing Street said it would be “appropriate” for Zelensky to speak given Russia’s invasion of the country.
Labor leader Sir Kia Starmer has also asked for permission to speak from the Ukrainian leader.
This year’s Eurovision was supposed to be held in Ukraine, but following Russia’s invasion last year, Liverpool will take place instead.
Zelenskiy reportedly requested a video appearance in Saturday’s contest finals, with an expected 160 million viewers worldwide.
But the EBU said in a statement on Thursday that it had rejected a request from the Ukrainian president to work on the event despite his “admirable intentions”.
“The Eurovision Song Contest is an international entertainment show, governed by strict rules and principles,” it added.
“As part of these, one of the cornerstones of the contest is the non-political nature of the event. This principle prohibits the possibility of making political or similar statements as part of the contest.”
“Values and Freedom”
The EBU added that a Ukrainian design firm was involved in designing the artwork for the event, which will feature 11 Ukrainian artists, including last year’s winner Karush Orchestra.
But Sunak’s spokesman questioned the decision on Friday, saying: “The values and freedoms that President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people are fighting for are fundamental, not political.” rice field.
But he added that the prime minister would not intervene and ask broadcasters to change their minds.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, Vadim Prystaiko, said the final of the contest would have been a “wonderful moment” for Zelensky to address a large audience.
But he added to PA Media: “We understand all domestic politics and a fair approach to all of this, so we shouldn’t push ourselves too hard.”
“It is important that we all remain mindful of the plight of the Ukrainian people who stand against Russian aggression on behalf of all of us,” Labor leader Sir Kia Starmer said in a statement.
“Eurovision is an expression of international unity and freedom, and President Zelensky should be able to approach it as a great champion of both.”
The EBU had originally announced that Russia would be allowed to play in the 2022 final following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two months before it was played in Italy.
Ukrainian public broadcaster UA:PBC, along with broadcasters from Iceland, Finland, Norway and the Netherlands, called for a Russian entry ban.
Boris Johnson, who served as British prime minister during the invasion of Russia and oversaw Britain’s initial response, said it was “right to hear” from Mr Johnson during Saturday’s final.