An unofficial theme of the Frankfurt Book Fair this year is support for Ukraine, which has manifested itself in a variety of ways. The most dramatic came yesterday when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the book fair via video from Kyiv. He was forceful and direct, thanking book industry representatives from around the world “for all the attention you pay to Ukraine. Such attention means that you indeed value freedom and are ready to defend it. This is what Europe needs most these days: to be united in the fight for freedom.”

He recounted Russian atrocities, attacks on civilians and infrastructure in Ukraine, its attacks and genocide in other countries, its assassinations of Putin’s Russian political opponents on German soil, and said, “Instead of importing culture, Russia imports death.” Russia “does not have any limits.” Europe and the rest of the world aren’t safe and will face the same threats as Ukraine “as long as there are terrorist states.” …

Following Zelensky, Oleksander Afonin, president of the Ukrainian Publisher and Booksellers Association, speaking in person, emphasized that the Ukrainian book industry needs “moral, organizational and financial support” as it keeps “working under the circumstances of massive human, material, economic and financial losses. We keep creating Ukrainian books and despite all the obstacles are doing our best to deliver them to readers both in Ukraine and abroad.” …

The Ukrainian stand, where more than 40 Ukrainian publishers are exhibiting, is one of the busiest locations at the fair and has the theme “Persistence of Being.” There is a full program of panels and events focused on Ukraine every day of the fair. Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska is speaking at several events, including a panel on Books Without Borders and another with the First Lady of Germany, Elke B├╝denbender, wife of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

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