The office of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has denied reports that it asked the Eurovision Song Contest organizers to allow him make a video appearance at this year’s event.
News outlets including The Times reported this week that the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) had turned down a request for Zelensky to make a speech during the Eurovision finals on Saturday.
“The Times information does not correspond to reality,” Zelensky’s spokesperson, Sergey Nikiforov, claimed in a Facebook post on Friday. “The Office of the President of Ukraine did not address the organizers of the Eurovision Song Contest to offer Vladimir Zelensky’s online performance during the finals or at any other stage of the contest.”
In a statement published on its website on Thursday, the EBU said it could not allow Zelensky to make any political statements during the event, insisting that the Eurovision Song Contest is an entertainment show and is non-political by nature.
“The request by Mr Zelensky to address the audience at the Eurovision Song Contest, whilst made with laudable intentions, regrettably cannot be granted by the European Broadcasting Union management as it would be against the rules of the event,” the statement said.
Since the start of Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine in February 2022, Zelensky has requested to be allowed to address numerous international events, both political and cultural.
While some organizers have allowed the Ukrainian leader to speak, others have rejected the idea, including the Oscars and the Toronto Film Festival. International football governing body FIFA also declined Zelensky’s request to speak during the World Cup final in Qatar in December.
“Too bad,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in response to the EBU’s decision. “He would have offered worthy competition to Eurovision participants this year.”
The comment was taken as a reference to Zelensky’s prior career as a comedian, during which he sometimes dressed in drag and on one occasion pretended to play the piano with his private parts.