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Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy was the country’s voice of Paddington

Hugh Bonneville tweeted a tribute to the president last night (February 27)

By Joe Goggins

President Zelenskyy provided the voice of Paddington Bear

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy provided the voice of the title character in his country’s dub of ‘Paddington’, it has emerged.

Hugh Bonneville, who appears as Mr Henry Brown in the beloved 2014 film and its 2017 sequel, tweeted a two-minute clip last night (February 27) of President Zelenskyy recording his lines for the film and discussing his role, adding the message: “Until today I had no idea who provided the voice of @paddingtonbear in Ukraine. Speaking for myself, thank you, President Zelenskiy.”

The Ukrainian premier, who has been widely praised in recent days for his defiant response to the invasion of his country by Russia in recent days, was an actor and comedian before entering politics in 2019. His impressive CV in the entertainment world included winning Ukraine’s version of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ in 2006.

He was already an established figure on the country’s film and television scene before he landed the lead role in the satirical comedy ‘Servant of the People’ in 2015. In it, he played the role of Vasyl Petrovych Holoborodko, an unassuming schoolteacher who finds himself propelled to the presidency after a political rant about systemic corruption goes viral.

So popular was Zelenskyy’s part in the show that he decided to follow in his character’s footsteps and run against the then-incumbent Petro Poroshenko, announcing his campaign on live tv on New Year’s Eve 2018.

He went on to sweep to power with a landslide 73% of the vote in the second round of the 2019 election, and was inaugurated in May of that year. He quickly came to international attention when then-U.S. President Donald Trump pressured him to investigate unsubstantiated claims of impropriety in the country by Hunter Biden, the son of now-president Joe Biden. The phone call ultimately led to the first of Trump’s two impeachments.

Now, Zelenskyy is winning global plaudits for his refusal to abandon his people as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues. He reportedly turned down a U.S. offer to evacuate him from the country last week, saying: “I need ammunition, not a ride.”

The unfolding situation in Ukraine poses a potential humanitarian crisis. Beneath his tweet, Bonnneville posted a link to a Unicef appeal, “for those across the world who cherish the values of Paddington”.