VILNIUS – The Seimas of Lithuania has sent an invitation to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to come to Vilnius in January to receive his Freedom Prize, but the speaker of the parliament admits that she does not expect him to do so.
"We've already sent a formal invitation, and we'll see on January 13 what his decision is," Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen has told BNS.
"Apparently, it's not very realistic to expect him to come," she added.
According to the speaker, it has yet to be decided who could hand over the prize to Zelensky if he does not come.
The Freedom Prize's statuette and a check for 5,000 euros is presented every year on January 13, when Lithuania marks the Day of the Defenders of Freedom.
According to Cmilyte-Nielsen, the program of this year's event will reflect the fact that "the laureate is special".
This year's prize was awarded "for the merits of Mr. Zelensky and of the Ukrainian nation in the fight for independence, freedom and democracy in the face of the Russian aggression", the parliament's press office has said in a press release.
"As president of Ukraine, Mr. Zelensky stands at the forefront of this struggle for freedom," it quoted Cmilyte-Nielsen as saying. "He has inspired millions of people both in Ukraine and beyond by his personal leadership and example."
"The Ukrainian people demonstrate resistance, perseverance and unity in their fight against the criminal actions of Vladimir Putin’s regime," she said.
The Freedom Prize was established by the Lithuanian parliament in 2011 to honor "individuals and organizations for their achievements in and contribution to the defense of human rights, development of democracy, and promotion of international cooperation for the cause of self-determination and sovereignty of the nations in Eastern and Central Europe".