Volodymyr Zelensky described Glastonbury as the “largest concentration of freedom” in the world as he urged festival-goers to pressure politicians to end the war in Ukraine.
Addressing the crowds in a video message, which was shown on screens at the other stage on Friday morning, the Ukrainian president said the pandemic “has stopped, but not broken, the lives of millions of people around the world”.
“We in Ukraine also like to live life as we used to have freedom and this wonderful summer,” he said, cheering from the crowd. “But we can’t do that because the worst thing that happened is that Russia stole our peace.”
Ukraine “will not let Russia’s war break us,” Zelensky said, adding that he wanted to stop the invasion before it destroyed people’s lives in other countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
They are all under threat now. That’s why I’m turning to you for support. Glastonbury is the biggest focus of freedom these days and I ask you to share that feeling with everyone whose freedom is under attack.
Spread the truth about Russia’s war. Helping Ukrainians forced to flee their homes due to the war; Find our United24 charitable platform and tap all the politicians you know to help restore peace in Ukraine.”
He said that time is “priceless” and “every day is measured by human lives. The more people join us in defending freedom and truth, the sooner Russia’s war against Ukraine will end. It proves that freedom always wins! Slava Ukraine.”
The message was played before the theater opened by the Libertines, with two Ukrainian flags being waved among the thousands who had gathered. Later, Libertines singer Pete Doherty began the hymn “Volodymyr Zelenskiy”, to which the audience joined and cheered.
Kevin Cullen, who was in the middle of the crowd, said it was a “great start” to the weekend “because the festival supports Ukraine and there are signs all over the site. The conflict has been going on for a while and we need to maintain the momentum of support.”
“It was really moving to hear him speak—a tough job to follow for the Libertines, sure,” James Howell said. “It is very important that we continue to think about Ukraine. Political work starts from the ground up.”
“His speech was amazing – and many people will hear those words, so it was a good way to remind the people of Britain that they never know what tomorrow holds. The facts are important,” said Sharon Hardwicke.
This year’s festival, which marks Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary, is organizing a number of events in solidarity with Ukraine, including a panel discussion at the Left Field tent on Friday with Guardian and Observer journalists John Harris and Emma Graham Harrison, who have campaigned in solidarity with Ukraine. Reported from Ukraine in recent months.
The Kalush Orchestra, the Ukrainian group that won the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest, will perform at the festival in its first concert in the UK, as will Ukraine’s Eurovision 2021 participant, Go_A, which took fifth and second place in the public vote.
This was “one of the highlights” of the group’s career, said Oli Peciuk, a member of the Kalush Orchestra, who runs an organization that provides assistance to refugees. “We would like to show our Ukrainian culture to the maximum,” he told the Guardian.
A performance on the Glastonbury Theater in the early hours of Saturday morning will be especially poignant because one of the band’s founders, Daniil Chernov, is currently serving with the country’s regional defense forces stationed outside Kyiv.
Psiuk said he is “very worried” about his bandmate and the rest of the country as the Russian invasion continues: “It’s very difficult and annoying because all our friends and relatives are in Ukraine. It’s like playing Russian roulette because you never know when a missile might hit your friends or family’s house.” .
Go_A’s lead vocalist, Katerina Pavlenko, told the Guardian that performing at Glastonbury was the group’s “biggest dream come true” and a “great honour”.
“I dreamed of attending this festival as a spectator. I didn’t even think that we would be invited to perform there,” she said.
The singer spoke about the importance of acting at the festival. “As President Zelensky said during his speech at the Grammys:” Fill the silence with music. ” Everyone should support Ukraine in any way possible, but not silence. “
Pavlenko said that just raising the Ukrainian flag on stage during a performance in another country is already an important statement. “Also through our concerts we draw attention to our unique Ukrainian culture and language.
“We are doing everything we can to break the ban on Russian information to Europe and declare that Ukraine is not Russia, and [that] The Ukrainian people, with their ancient national culture, have the right to a separate cultural and political existence.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian cinematographer Diana Oliverova told the Left Field crowd that she felt as if the war would never end. “It’s just constant,” she said. “You feel happy that you survived, and that your family is safe, but look at the ruined lives of others, it is very volatile. My friend’s house is completely destroyed.”