Ukraine’s Zelensky ‘breaks record’ for world’s longest press conference

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses an assembly of journalists during his day-long media marathon at a food court in Kiev. (AFP)
Updated 10 October 2019

Ukraine’s Zelensky ‘breaks record’ for world’s longest press conference

  • Hundreds of local and international journalists joined Zelensky around a table to pose questions in shifts
  • The president held forth on subjects such as the war in eastern Ukraine, relations with Russia and his phone call with US President Donald Trump that has led to a Washington impeachment probe

KIEV: Volodymyr Zelensky, a popular comedian before he was elected president of Ukraine this spring, promised to bring a fresh kind of politics to the ex-Soviet nation.
And on Thursday, he did what no politician had done before — a more than 12-hour press conference that Ukraine’s National Records Agency declared the longest in world history.
Around eight hours into the marathon event, Zelensky’s first major press conference since coming to power in May, a representative of the agency stood up to deliver the news.
The 41-year-old president reacted with surprise, saying he was a “modest” person and averse to celebrations.
The previous record was held by Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko, with a press conference that lasted over seven hours, Ukrainian media reported.
Zelensky’s feat has yet to be verified by an international body.
Thursday’s press conference was taking place at a trendy food court in central Kiev.
Hundreds of local and international journalists joined Zelensky around a table to pose questions in shifts.
The president held forth on subjects such as the war in eastern Ukraine, relations with Russia and his phone call with US President Donald Trump that has led to a Washington impeachment probe.
Zelensky told Ukrainian media he had injections to strengthen his vocal cords before the event.


Chinese TV pulls Arsenal match after Ozil’s Uighur comments

Updated 15 December 2019

Chinese TV pulls Arsenal match after Ozil’s Uighur comments

BEIJING: Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has pulled a game between Arsenal and Manchester City from its program after the Gunners midfielder Mesut Ozil expressed support for Uighurs in Xinjiang.
Ozil, a German of Turkish origin, condemned China’s crackdown on Muslim minorities in the western region in a tweet on Friday, while criticizing Muslim countries for failing to speak up against abuses.
Sunday’s Premier League game in London between Arsenal and Manchester City was initially scheduled to be broadcast live by CCTV’s sports channel shortly after midnight on Monday, according to a schedule published earlier on the league’s official Weibo account.
However, by Sunday CCTV replaced the match on its schedule with a pre-recorded game between Tottenham and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
“Qur'ans are being burnt... Mosques are being shut down ... Muslim schools are being banned ... Religious scholars are being killed one by one ... Brothers are forcefully being sent to camps,” Ozil wrote in Turkish on his Twitter account Friday.
“The Muslims are silent. Their voice is not heard,” he wrote on a background of a blue field with a white crescent moon, the flag of what Uighur separatists call East Turkestan.
China has faced growing international condemnation for setting up a vast network of camps in Xinjiang aimed at homogenizing the Uighur population to reflect China’s majority Han culture.
Rights groups and experts say more than one million Uighurs and people of other mostly Muslim ethnic minorities have been rounded up in the camps in the tightly controlled region.
After initially denying the camps existed, China now describes them as vocational schools aimed at dampening the allure of Islamist extremism and violence.
Arsenal on Saturday distanced itself from Ozil’s comments, saying it has “always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics.”
Ozil’s comments drew anger online, with some users on Weibo calling for a ban on his games.
Nationalist tabloid Global Times called Ozil’s comments “false” and said in a tweet on Sunday that he had “disappointed Chinese fans and football governing authorities.”
The cancelation prompted further criticism of Ozil, including from Arsenal fans.
“If it hadn’t been for Arsenal’s Ozil making trouble out of nothing, would the broadcast of the entire team’s match have been blocked in China?” one user asked on Sunday.
“(Ozil) published inappropriate comments on foreign social media that would greatly hurt the feelings of Chinese fans,” another user said.
Arsenal is the latest foreign team to face the ire of Chinese broadcasters and audiences due to a player’s political stance.
The NBA in October sparked a backlash in China after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.
In response, CCTV canceled its broadcasts of two NBA pre-season games in China, and the Rockets have been absent from CCTV and Internet giant Tencent’s programming schedule so far this season.