In commemoration of the Day of the Defenders of Freedom, the Freedom Prize was awarded to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine
Press release, 13 January 2023
On 13 January, the Day of the Defenders of Freedom, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Speaker of the Seimas, awarded the Freedom Prize 2022 to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine. The award was handed over to the President of Ukraine through Petro Beshta, Ambassador of Ukraine to the Republic of Lithuania.
The Prize was awarded for the merits of Mr Zelenskyy and of the Ukrainian nation in the fight for independence, freedom and democracy in the face of the Russian aggression.
According to the Speaker of the Seimas, the Freedom Prize 2022 was awarded to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a president whose efforts to stop the aggression against Ukraine can hardly be overestimated.
‘As President of Ukraine, he stands at the forefront of Ukraine’s struggle for freedom, having inspired millions of people both inside and outside Ukraine by his personal leadership and example,’ the Speaker of the Seimas said. ‘We were united to the same degree in January 1991, and Lithuania became invincible as a result. Back then, we set an example of commitment to the cause of freedom both for the free world and for those aspiring for freedom. We showcased the size of commitment to the cause of freedom, when the wish to defend one’s country overcomes the fear and forces one to take a step towards the envisaged goal for the sake of oneself, one’s children, and one’s country.’
Mr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine and winner of the Freedom Prize 2022, who joined the commemoration remotely, insisted that Lithuania was among the most sincere defenders of freedom and claimed that this was the best tribute to the heroes who defeated the empire on those winter days 32 years ago. ‘Now, supported by yourselves, we are on the way to the final victory over that empire. Once this war against the aggressor is over and a definitive victory is won, Russia will no longer be able to impose its will on the European nations,’ President Zelenskyy said at the event.
Mr Zelenskyy thanked Lithuania for supporting the cause of freedom every step of the way, including these 323 cruel days of Russia’s inhumane warfare.
Paulė Kuzmickienė, MP, Chair of the Seimas Freedom Prize Commission, also took the floor at the prize awarding ceremony. She noted that Ukraine had grown to become one of the greatest freedom icons of all time. ‘Mr Zelenskyy’s contribution to Ukraine has translated into Ukraine’s statehood and profound trust into its own capability of a swift shift from eastern to western values, of self-governance and of self-defence. Under President Zelenskyy, Ukraine showed the world that it was possible and, indeed, necessary to never make any allowances for Russia, to fight back, defeat the aggressor and win a victory!’ Ms Kuzmickienė said.
She went on to expand on how Mr Zelenskyy and Ukraine had been exemplary in their freedom from fear. ‘The approach to international relations introduced by Mr Zelenskyy, exclusively permissible for him and the Ukrainian nation, is to offer bold public criticism to the leaders of other countries, thus producing faster decision-making on their part. This is how the President and the people of Ukraine are effectuating a fundamental transformation in the West and worldwide,’ she said.
Speech by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, winner of the Freedom Prize (video with interpretation into Lithuanian)
Photos from the event are available on the Flickr account of the Seimas. When using them, please include the following reference: Photo by Olga Posaškova/Ilona Šilenkova/ Viktoriia Chorna, Office of the Seimas.
Rimas Rudaitis, Adviser, Press Office, Information and Communication Department, tel. +370 5 239 6132, e-mail: [email protected]