A video address at the Frankfurt Book Fair

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Recorded comments by Volodymyr Zelensky to Frankfurt are presented in cooperation with the Federation of European Publishers.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Image: The Ukrainian Presidency

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

A recorded speech by the President of Ukraine

In one of the many video speeches made by Volodymyr Zelenskyy during Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked siege, the Ukrainian President is scheduled to speak at the Frankfurt Book Fair (October 19-23). This is believed to be the first time the President of Ukraine has addressed the global publishing community, although our readers will recall that the First Lady, Olena Zelenska, spoke at an event on books for refugees at the British Library in August .

The book fair event will take place on Thursday, October 20th at 12:30 p.m. CEST in the large auditorium of Messe Frankfurt’s congress center, called Harmonie Hall. Publishing Perspectives understands that Zelensky’s speech will be a recorded speech and that it will be presented in collaboration with the Brussels-based Federation of European Publishers (FEP) and the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s association of publishers and booksellers

This is the latest event to be added to a trade show that already includes significant commitments to the crisis in Ukraine and its impact on that country’s proud and resilient publishing community.

In his Oct. 4 address to the Ukrainian people, Zelenskyy described the rapid progress made by Ukrainian forces in the south and east in a robust counteroffensive.

As Anton Troianovksi reported for The New York Times this morning (October 5), “President Vladimir V. Putin has signed more than 400 pages of legislation annexing four Ukrainian regions, the Kremlin said on Wednesday, pushing a parallel reality that in which Russia pretends to exercise sovereignty over thousands of square kilometers of territory that its military does not actually control.”

In his speech to his citizens, Zelenskyy said, among other things: “Within the framework of the current defense operation, the Ukrainian army is making a fairly rapid and powerful advance in the south of our country. This week alone, dozens of settlements have already been freed from Russia’s sham referendum. In the Kherson region, in the Kharkiv region, in the Luhansk region and in the Donetsk region as a whole. … Our warriors do not stop. And it’s only a matter of time before we drive the occupiers out of our entire country.”

A focus on the Ukraine crisis in Frankfurt

The Frankfurt Pavilion, left, in the Agora of the Frankfurt Book Fair 2019. Image: FBM, Anett Weirauch

Among the many elements of the Frankfurt program is the “Focus on Ukraine” programme, centered on a 100 square meter joint stand (including stage) in Hall 4.0 B114.

In addition, a special Ukraine-themed series of events will be curated for Frankfurt on Saturday afternoon, October 22 in the Frankfurt Pavilion, the grand theater created for the Book Fair in the Agora. Scroll down to “Program Highlights at a Glance” on the Frankfurt Pavilion Events page and click on Saturday 22 October to view the special program for Ukraine, which begins at 14:00 CEST.

As official details are being finalized, the pavilion’s Ukraine program will feature a key figure, activist and poet/translator Serhiy Zhadan, winner of this year’s German Book Trade Peace Prize.

“Focus Ukraine” on Saturday in the Frankfurt Pavilion

Here are some of the “Focus Ukraine” events planned for the pavilion, all times in CEST. They are open to trade visitors and exhibitors as well as the general public, who are at the fair on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this year.

Serhiy Zhadan

2 p.m. in English: “We Are the Price” is an examination of the origins of warlike violence and the destruction of cultural treasures. “We are the price,” is how artist Nikita Kadan described the perception of war. The price of freedom is paid by Ukrainians who have become targets for living in a country that has chosen a democratic path. Many cultural workers have left their real vocation behind, support the Ukrainian resistance or go to the front. In these times, not only do people die, landscapes, towns and villages are also destroyed to such an extent that some of them are uninhabitable. Museums, schools and cultural centers are being destroyed, it is a destruction of urban spaces, an “urbicide” (Karl Schlögel).

Serhij Zhadan, Karl Schlögel and Mykola Rjabtschuk will be there.

Andrei Kurkov

3 p.m. in English and German: “Writing and Narrating in a State of War”. The descriptive information for this event states: “Writers are masters of observation and storytelling. With the art of the word, they describe the universal through the concrete, historical events are illustrated through individual fates. Readers also look for answers to what moves them in literature. But what happens to the language of authors who are in existential danger? Can they continue to write or do they fall silent? What do writing and literature mean in a country whose culture has been declared a target for annihilation?”

The Ukrainian writers Andrei Kurkov, Lyubov Yakymchuk and Olesya Yaremchuk are presented.

Vasyl Cherepanyn

4 p.m. in English and German: “Is ‘Lessons From History’ an empty phrase?” Here the media message says: “With the war in Ukraine, attention is also drawn to the unresolved and long-overlooked violence in Russian history and the present in the West. The result is mass extermination, which has become a certainty with every liberated place like Butcha or Izjum. Why has Russia’s neo-imperial demeanor and nationalist rhetoric been ignored in Europe for so long? How was it possible to “fall into a historical sleep” in this country, although history plays a constitutive role for the post-war period in Germany in particular? Against this background, can we still learn lessons from history for the future?”

Also present are Vasyl Cherepanyn, Manfred Sapper and Andrii Portnov.

Oleksandra Matviichuk from Ukraine speaks in the opening sequence of the World Expression Forum in Lillehammer, WEXFO on May 30th. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

5 p.m. in German: “Media and Civil Society in Wartime” Our program description: “The social resilience in Ukraine and the impressive solidarity during the war are based on a functioning civil society. Civil society structures emerged after independence in 1991 and were further consolidated during the Orange Revolution and the Euromaidan. It is striking that many NGOs in Ukraine are run by women, as are independent media.”

Featuring Sevgil Musaeva, Editor-in-Chief of online newspaper Ukrajinska Pravda, and Oleksandra Matviichuk, winner of the 2022 ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’. (See our story from the World Expression Forum in Lillehammer: Olexksandra Matviichuk from Ukraine on WEXFO: The ‘Interconnected World’ “

Kateryna Mischenko

6 p.m. in English and German: “Border Crossings: Women at War and on the Run”: “The fate of millions of Ukrainians changed at the moment of widespread attack by Russia. Many women in particular have had to leave their homes and husbands and seek refuge outside their homeland for their children and parents. The migration movements go hand in hand with the logic of war and violence. At the same time, women are a driving force in many areas of life in Ukrainian society and the army, which was rather the exception a few years ago. Is an emancipatory feminist movement also an answer to the war?”

There are Kateryna Mischenko, Tayra (Julia Payevska), Tamara Martseniuk.

Read more about special Ukraine-related programs in Frankfurt here.


Follow our coverage of Vladimir Putin’s war against Ukraine and its impact on the country’s publishing players and international industry reactions. You can find out more about the Ukrainian Book Institute here.

You can find more from Publishing Perspectives about the Frankfurt Book Fair here, more about the German book and publishing market here and more about book fairs and fairs in the global publishing industry here.

Find out more from us about the coronavirus-COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing here.

About the author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a Non-Resident Fellow of Trends Research & Advisory and was named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year at the London Book Fair’s International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He was previously Associate Editor for The FutureBook at The Bookseller in London. Anderson has been a senior producer and anchor at CNN.com, CNN International and CNN USA for more than a decade. As an art critic (National Critics Institute) he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald and the Tampa Tribune, now Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for writers now owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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