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Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky was the voice of Paddington

Many British Paddington fans are only just realising that Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, was the voice of the beloved bear when the film was released in the country.

The politician, 44, was a comedian and actor before he took office.

However, many social media users didn’t realise that Zelensky’s credits extended to Paddington until Hugh Bonneville, who played the bear’s foster father Henry Brown in the UK version of the 2014 film, tweeted about it on Sunday (27 February).

“Until today I had no idea who provided the voice of Paddington Bear in Ukraine,” he wrote.

“Speaking for myself, thank you, President Zelensky.”

The tweet included a link to a video of Zelensky voicing Paddington and then speaking in Ukrainian in front of a poster of the film.

At the time of writing, Bonneville’s post has been liked more than 31,000 times.

In a case of life imitating art, Zelensky entered politics after playing a schoolteacher who became the president of Ukraine in the satirical series Servant of the People.

He starred as Vasyl Petrovych Holoborodko, a man who unexpectedly becomes leader of his country after a video of him slating politicians is viewed by millions of people online.

After the show became a huge hit, with many citizens relating to its themes of corruption in government and political discontentment, Zelensky announced on live television in 2018 that he planned to run for president.

He won the 2019 presidential election with a landslide 73 per cent of the vote, beating Petro Poroshenko.

Zelensky addressed the Ukrainian people on Sunday morning after major cities in the country came under sustained attack from Russian forces.

“The night was hard,” he said in the video message. “The people rose to defend their state and they showed their true faces. This is terror.

“They are going to bomb our Ukrainian cities even more. They are going to kill our children even more insidiously. This is an evil that has come to our land and must be destroyed.”

Read more about Zelensky’s unusual path to politics here and follow The Independent’s live blog for updates on the war in Ukraine here.

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