Scandinavian distributor Eccho Rights, which holds the rights to three seasons of the show in which Zelenskyy played Ukraine’s President, has licensed the 2015 satirical drama to Channel 4 in the UK, MBC in the Middle East, ANT 1 in Greece and PRO TV in Romania in the past week, according to a Deadline report.
The company has pledged a $55,500 donation to the Ukrainian Red Cross Society, while also removing all Russian-owned and produced series from its catalogue with immediate effect.
Several content producers and distributors have taken a stance against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. For instance, BBC Studios has said, “In common with other media organisations we have been monitoring events closely. The BBC executive team were meeting today and they have decided to stop all content licensing to Russian clients,” according to C21Media.
Netflix has also confirmed that it will not carry Russian state television channels on its service.
Zelensky, 44, became famous nationwide for his comic portrayal in the TV series, in which he played the role of a high school teacher who becomes president after a video rant against corruption goes viral.
“The series is a comedy but also an important document of where Zelenskiy comes from,” said Eccho Managing Partner Nicola Söderlund.
“His fictional president is a normal man, who grows into his role as a heroic and adored leader. While the real world scenario facing Zelenskiy and the Ukrainian people is far more grim and appalling than the comedy of the series, there are obvious parallels with the real world situation.”
Prior to his acting career, Zelensky obtained a degree in law from Kyiv National Economic University. He then pursued comedy and created the production company Kvartal 95, which produces films, cartoons, and TV shows including Servant of the People.
The series aired from 2015 to 2019 and was immensely popular. A political party bearing the same name as the television show was created in March 2018 by employees of Kvartal 95.
Russia launched a massive invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea last Thursday, after months of military build-up at the border and heightening suspicion of war by the West. Moscow’s aggression is considerably the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II.
After reports started doing the rounds that the Ukrainian president had fled, Zelensky had released a video from central Kyiv the next day saying, “We’re all here. Our military is here. Citizens in society are here. We’re all defending our independence, our country, and it will stay this way.”