Freedom always wins: Zelensky delivers emotive message to Glastonbury revellers
London: Volodymyr Zelensky has made a surprise appearance at Glastonbury, urging crowds gathered for the long-running British music festival to “spread the truth about Russia’s war” in a pre-recorded speech.
The Ukrainian president delivered an emotive address via a video message ahead of The Libertines’ stage-opening set on the big screens on Friday (UK time) describing the event, which began in 1970, as the “greatest concentration of freedom”.
A flag with the image of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the words ‘Dance For Ukraine’ is seen at the Glastonbury Festiva.Credit:AP
Zelensky said that Ukraine “will not let Russia’s war break us”, drawing cheers as he announced: “That is why I turn to you for support, Glastonbury … and I ask you to share this feeling with everyone whose freedom is under attack.
“The more people join us in defending freedom and truth, the sooner Russia’s war against Ukraine will end. Prove that freedom always wins,” he said.
He asked festival-goers to “help Ukrainians who are forced to flee their homes” by putting “pressure on politicians” around the world.
More than 200,000 people are attending this year’s four-day festival, the first since 2019. Among a star-studded line-up is Ukrainian punk-folk quartet Dakha Brakha, who will play on the main Pyramid Stage on Sunday and have vowed to bring an anti-war message with them.
The band describes themselves as “ambassadors of free Ukraine” and often shout “stop Putin!” and “no war!” during concerts.
Performers will also include Billie Eilish, Ziggy Marley, Kendrick Lamar, Paul McCartney and Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra, the winner of last month’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Wearing his trademark military uniform, Zelensky told revellers his country wanted to enjoy the summer like them, but could not because “Russia has stolen our peace” and the war must stop before it “ruins people’s lives in other countries of Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America”.
“Spread the truth about Russia’s war, help Ukrainians who are forced to flee their homes because of the war, find our United24 charity platform and put pressure on all the politicians you know to help restore peace in Ukraine.”
The United24 website, launched in May, is the main collection point for charitable donations to help Ukraine resist Russian troops.
He finished his message by saying “Slava Ukraini”, which translates in English as “glory to Ukraine”, which was met with loud and rolling cheers and applause across those gathered at the stage in Worthy Farm, Somerset.
Zelensky has routinely appeared via video link before national parliaments and global bodies to implore countries to help Ukraine in the war, which Russia calls a “special military operation”. He also made a video address before the Eurovision Song Contest and the Grammy Awards.
Last month, he invited Bono and The Edge to perform in the Kyiv metro.
Glastonbury has long provided a stage for politically charged messages, after playing host to nuclear disarmament and Greenpeace protests in the 1990s. The festival has supported Oxfam, another anti-war charity, since 1993.
In 2004, Michael Eavis, the festival’s founder and a long-time supporter of the Labour Party, suggested that voters move to the Greens in protest against the Iraq war, before later backing Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-nuclear policies.
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