Volodymyr Zelensky’s intervention at the San Remo Festival divides Italy

Posted 3 Feb. 2023 at 11:00

In the age of spectacle politics, this should have been a non-event. And yet, the controversy does not weaken a few days before the opening of the next San Remo Music Festival, from February 7 to February 11. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to deliver a pre-recorded video message there which will be broadcast on the closing night. An ideal stage to address the widest audience since the festival is also broadcast on RAI, where it embodies the oldest and most popular TV show. Every year, its broadcast on the public television channel breaks audience records.

“Paranoias over Zelensky”, is the title of an editorial in the daily “La Repubblica”, which looks back on the confrontation provoked by the announcement of this two-minute video, in which the Ukrainian president will thank the Italy for its support in the war against Russia.

A dangerous mix for some

This will first be viewed, before its broadcast, by a board of directors of RAI, deeply divided on the subject, like the political class. Many personalities, while continuing to support Ukraine, denounce a dangerous mix between politics and entertainment. Others do not hesitate to bluntly criticize a “misappropriation of public television for propaganda purposes”.

According to “La Repubblica”, this controversy borders on the ridiculous. She recalls that Volodymyr Zelensky has made similar appearances in recent months at the Grammy Awards, Golden Globes, as well as the Cannes and Venice Festivals. “It’s a classic media strategy that aims to create the greatest possible solidarity,” continues the daily. “What is normal everywhere else becomes a matter of state for us. »

Precedents at the San Remo Festival

The irruption of the news or the intervention of a political personality would not however be a novelty at the San Remo Festival. In 1984, his stage was occupied for a few moments by workers and Mikhail Gorbachev was invited to speak there in 2009. “Volodymyr Zelensky’s message will be a message of peace”, insists the star presenter of the Festival. “It is right not to forget the war. A refrain that will be sung in all tones over the next few days to drown out the discordant notes of those who are increasingly questioning support for Ukraine.