Ukrainian President Zelensky proposed for Lithuania's Freedom Prize

  • 2022-11-14
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose country has been fighting against Russia's invasion for nine months now, has been proposed for this year's Freedom Prize in Lithuania. 

The parliamentary Freedom Prize Commission approved his nomination on Monday, with the final decision to be made by the full Seimas.

"We decided to award the Freedom Prize to Zelensky because it is Ukraine where this great struggle for freedom, which is making the history of the world's struggle for freedom, is taking place and Zelensky has taken on this heavy leadership mission," Paule Kuzmickiene, the commission's chairwoman, told BNS after its meeting.  

The Ukrainian president has helped to reveal the true face of tyranny – Russia – and its crimes against humanity, according to Kuzmickiene.

The MP described the Ukrainian president as "a man of extraordinary courage, wisdom and great patience". 

"It would be highly symbolic if the Freedom Prize, which is awarded on the day of Lithuania's defended freedom on January 13, were presented (to Zelensky) as a hopeful sign that we will win the fight and see a different security architecture in the world," she said. 

The Freedom Prize would be a token of both gratitude and support for the Ukrainian president, according to the MP.

Zelensky was chosen from four candidates, whose names are not made public.

Natural, public and private legal persons from Lithuania and foreign countries may be nominated for the Freedom Prize in acknowledgment of their contribution to freedom, democracy and human rights.

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".

The prize, which amounts to 5,000 euros, is presented every year on January 13, when Lithuania marks the Day of the Defenders of Freedom.

The first Freedom Prize was awarded in 2011 to Sergei Kovalev, a Russian fighter for freedom and democracy and defender of human rights.

The list of awardees also includes Antanas Terleckas, a former political prisoner and founder of the political organization Lithuanian Freedom League; Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius, the founder and editor of the underground Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania; Adam Michnik, a Polish dissident and editor-in-chief of the daily Gazeta Wyborcza; former Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus; Lithuania's first post-independence leader Vytautas Landsbergis; dissident nun Nijole Sadunaite; seven partisans who fought against Soviet occupation – Jonas Ceponis, Jonas Kadzionis, Juozas Jakavonis, Bronislavas Juospaitis, Vytautas Balsys, Jonas Abukauskas and Juozas Mocys, and Albinas Kentra, a chronicler of the Lithuanian Atgimimas (Revival) movement.  

The award went to Belarus' democratic opposition in 2020 and to three contributors to the Soviet-era underground Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania – Gerarda Suliauskaite, Bernadeta Maliskaite and Jonas Boruta – in 2021.