VILNIUS – Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya awarded on Monday archaeologists who found the remains of the commanders of the 1863-1864 uprising against Tsarist Russia.
Tsikhanouskaya, who now lives in Vilnius, presented badges of honor to the National Museum of Lithuania and a group of archaeologists after visiting the museum's exposition dedicated to the commanders, including Belarusians' national hero Kastus Kalinouski (known as Konstantinas Kalinauskas in Lithuania and Konstanty Kalinowski in Poland).
"The reburial of Kalinouski was a very important event. I wanted to personally thank the people who took part in the archaeological searches, and also organized the reburial, and to give symbolic badges of honor so that you know that you did a lot to Belarusians. This was when we, Belarusians, began to perceive ourselves as a nation and we began to unite," she said.
Commenting on reports that Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has nominated her for the Nobel Peace Prize, Tsikhanouskaya said that "this is the recognition of the Belarusian people."
"As a representative of the Belarusian people whom the people have entrusted with the right to speak on their behalf, I am sure that Belarusians will greatly appreciate this," the opposition leader said.
Well-informed sources told BNS on Saturday that Nauseda had nominated Tsikhanouskaya for the Nobel Peace Prize.
"Unbelievable moment! Thankful to President Nauseda for nominating me & all people of Belarus for the Nobel Peace Prize. It's a great expression of solidarity with Belarus & acknowledgment of our peaceful fight for freedom that has been inspiring the whole world since last August," Tsikhanouskaya tweeted after the news broke.
The president's spokesman declined to comment when contacted by BNS.
Heads of states are among thousands of people who can propose names for the Nobel Peace Prize. Nominations close on January 31.
38-year-old Tsikhanouskaya was the main candidate standing against President Alexander Lukashenko in the August 9 presidential election.
She fled to Lithuania after the vote which her followers say she won. Tsikhanouskaya has since met with European political leaders, seeking to consolidate international pressure for Lukashenko to leave power.