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Live: Zelensky address beamed in to Cannes as festival kicks off


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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the gala opening ceremony of the 75th Cannes Film Festival as a surprise guest by video link from Kyiv, asking for the cinema world’s solidarity with his people in the face of the Russian invasion. Follow FRANCE 24’s liveblog for all the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+2). 

5:39am: Russian gymnast banned for a year for pro-war symbol

A Russian gymnast who sported an insignia linked to his country’s invasion of Ukraine on a medal podium has been banned for one year, a disciplinary panel said.

Ivan Kuliak’s singlet had the letter ‘Z’ prominently placed as he stood next to Ukraine’s Kovtun Illia, the gold medallist at a World Cup event in Doha in March.

The ‘Z’ has been seen daubed on Russian tanks and vehicles in Ukraine and has come to symbolise support for the invasion.

A disciplinary commission of the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation (GEF) found that Kuliak violated rules of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), the sport’s ruling body.

“Mr Kuliak is not allowed to participate in any FIG-sanctioned event or competition organised by an affiliated FIG member federation for one year as of the date of this decision,” GEF said.

Kuliak must also return his bronze medal and prize money of 500 Swiss francs ($500). He has 21 days to appeal against the punishment.

It had already been decided that all Russian and Belarusian gymnasts will be banned from future competitions.

2:30am: Russia says hundreds of Ukrainians surrender at Azovstal, Kyiv urges swap

Hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers who held off Russian fighters at the besieged Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol have surrendered, Moscow said Tuesday, as Kyiv called for an immediate prisoner swap.

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The strategic port city fell to Russian forces last month, but a relentless Ukrainian military unit held out in the maze of tunnels under the plant, hailed as heroes and celebrated for stalling Moscow’s invasion.

On Tuesday, 265 of them were taken into Russian captivity, including 51 who were heavily wounded, the Russian defence ministry said.

The ministry, which published images showing soldiers on stretchers, said the injured were transported to a hospital in the eastern Donetsk region controlled by pro-Kremlin rebels.

The defence ministry in Kyiv said it was hoping for an “exchange procedure… to repatriate these Ukrainian heroes as quickly as possible”.

The government would do “everything necessary” to rescue the undisclosed number of personnel still holed up in the Soviet-era bunkers, the ministry said, but admitted there was no military option available.

The fate of the captured Ukrainians was unclear Tuesday, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refusing to say whether they would be treated as criminals or prisoners of war.

Ukraine: Fighters evacuated from Azovstal Plan


8:04pm: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses Cannes Film Festival

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise video address at the opening ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday. 

“Hundreds of people are dying every day. They won’t get up again after the clapping at the end,” he told the audience, which had reacted with surprise when the pre-recorded message was introduced. 

“Will cinema keep quiet, or will it speak up? If there is a dictator, if there is a war for freedom, once again, everything depends on our unity. Can cinema stay outside of this unity?” Zelensky added. 

Zelensky referred to the power of cinema during World War II, including the 1940 Charlie Chaplin film “The Great Dictator” which mocked Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. 

“Chaplin’s dictator did not destroy the real dictator, but thanks to cinema, thanks to this film, cinema did not stay quiet,” Zelensky said. 

“We need a new Chaplin to prove today that cinema is not mute. Will cinema keep quiet, or will it speak up? Can cinema stay outside of this?”

His speech received a standing ovation from the crowd in the southern French resort town’s Palais des Festivals.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)



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