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Ruslan Stefanchuk, Head of the Ukrainian Parliament, presented with the Aleksandras Stulginskis Star award

Press release, 1 June 2023


At its unscheduled sitting on 1 June 2023, the Seimas presented Ruslan Stefanchuk, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, with the Aleksandras Stulginskis Star award of the Seimas.


Mr Stefanchuk received the award for his efforts in fostering the ideas of parliamentarianism, democracy and the statehood of Ukraine, for his heroic leadership in defending the freedom and democratic values of his homeland, and for his determination and persistence in seeking Ukraine’s integration into the European Union and in mobilising the parliamentary community of the democratic world for the cause of Ukraine’s freedom.

Photo by the Office of the Seimas


Speaking at the ceremony before presenting the award, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Speaker of the Seimas, underlined that Mr Stefanchuk was one of the most charismatic leaders of Ukraine, inspiring millions of his fellow countrymen with his leadership, courage and personal example to resist the imperial aggression. According to the Speaker of the Seimas, his efforts to mobilise the parliamentary community of the democratic world for the freedom of one’s homeland are exceptional.


‘At Ruslan’s invitation, together with my fellow speakers of the Latvian and Estonian parliaments, we visited the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine last year, just a month after the 24th of February. Despite the fact that the aggressor’s tanks were approaching the capital city of Kyiv, Ukrainian parliamentarians still convened for their sitting to take the necessary decisions and showed the entire democratic world how a democratically elected parliament must operate even under the conditions of the most fierce aggression,’ Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen said.

Photo by the Office of the Seimas


In her speech, the Speaker of the Seimas also stressed that our brotherly nation of Ukraine had always been among the closest historical allies of Lithuania, and we had shared the aspiration to jointly resist the imperial aggression of Moscow for centuries. She noted that next year we would celebrate the 510th anniversary of the Battle of Orsha, an event marking our joint victory against the Moskovian army that was three times the size of ours. ‘The Battle of Orsha, the importance of which is parallel to that of the Battle of Grunwald, is an important historical link connecting Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine and Belarus – countries whose brightest people now not only experience special spiritual communion and face the war as a great personal tragedy, but also share a sense of belonging to the European civilisation,’ Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen said.


As noted by the Speaker of the Seimas, Russian totalitarianism, the same ideology of hatred as was the case with fascism or Nazism, is incompatible with the norms of civilised coexistence and international security and must therefore be abolished. ‘Now you, Ukraine, are in the vanguard of this process. It is our firm commitment to support you as much as it takes and to do our utmost to prevent that support from weakening,’ Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen said.

Photo by the Office of the Seimas


Paulius Saudargas, Deputy Speaker of the Seimas and member of the Commission for Awarding the Aleksandras Stulginskis Star, said in his speech that he had met the esteemed Ruslan Stefanchuk on the smouldering front line, i.e. the demarcation line, in Eastern Ukraine back in the spring of 2021. ‘That was the eighth year into the war in Donbas. At that time, at our trilateral meeting (together with Polish representatives), I stressed that what was happening on Ukrainian soil was not a bilateral conflict. Rather, it was a clear, primitive and unilateral aggression by Russia. Unfortunately, that was only a prelude to an even broader military aggression. We did not know then what kind of pain and challenges Ukraine was going to face,’ Mr Saudargas said.


According to the Deputy Speaker of the Seimas, since the first days of the war, we had seen the Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament as one of the leaders of the state at the forefront of the fight for Ukraine’s freedom. ‘He is a politician who demonstrates personal leadership and courage and who leads by example, thereby inspiring Ukrainians to fight. He also teaches us, as foreign politicians, a lesson of fortitude, courage and loyalty to democracy, despite the most adverse circumstances,’ Mr Saudargas noted.


He believed that the war launched by Russia had only reinforced the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of the Ukrainian people. ‘Ruslan Stefanchuk is seen by the international community as a cornerstone of Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration, and as one of the main architects and driving forces behind the necessary reforms and legislative initiatives. He is also considered to be an ice-breaker of parliamentary democracy who urges and mobilises the parliamentary community of the democratic world to help Ukraine and to seek accountability of, and punishment for, the aggressor,’ Mr Saudargas said.

Photo by the Office of the Seimas


When claiming the award, Ruslan Stefanchuk, Head of the Ukrainian Parliament, expressed his gratitude to Lithuania and its people for all the support to Ukraine, including the invaluable military and technical assistance, training of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, treatment and rehabilitation of soldiers, all the financial, material and humanitarian support, unique solidarity campaigns, refuge given to more than 70,000 citizens, assertive position on Russia, and participation in the reconstruction of Ukraine. ‘I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my Lithuanian brothers and sisters and to the State of Lithuania for all that you have done so inspiringly and tirelessly for the sake of Ukraine and Ukrainians in this difficult and challenging for us period of time. I know that you are following the events in Ukraine with your hearts, with your historical memory, and with your infinite national dignity,’ Mr Stefanchuk said. He welcomed the fact that there was no single person in Lithuania who was not helping Ukraine.


According to Mr Stefanchuk, their struggle continues. ‘And the struggle takes place not only with weapons on the battlefield. There is another, albeit bloodless, but equally fierce struggle taking place for the right to be part of Europe and the Euro-Atlantic community. And if in the first case we are forced to overcome the enemy, the second fight is against someone’s fears, stereotypes and distrust, usually inspired by the same enemy,’ the Head of the Ukrainian Parliament said. He asked the Lithuanians to continue to support them in this fight and help bring back home the tens of thousands of Ukrainian children abducted and deported from Ukraine by Russia.

Photo by the Office of the Seimas


The Parliament established the Aleksandras Stulginskis Star as a Seimas award on the occasion of the Centenary of the Constituent Seimas and the Republic of Lithuania. The award is intended to honour the prominent personality of Aleksandras Stulginskis. The award is conferred on Lithuanian and foreign natural and legal persons for their achievements and contribution towards fostering the ideas of parliamentarianism, democracy and statehood.


On 28 March 2023, the Seimas decided to grant the Aleksandras Stulginskis Star award to Česlovas Juršėnas, Signatory to the Act of Independence of Lithuania and former Speaker of the Seimas, and Ruslan Stefanchuk, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Mr Juršėnas was presented with the award on 18 May 2023.


The first winners of this Seimas award in 2022 were President Valdas Adamkus and US Senator Richard Joseph Durbin.


Rimas Rudaitis, Adviser, Press Office, Information and Communication Department, tel. +370 5 239 6132, e-mail: [email protected]

   Last updated on 06/05/2023 15:49
   Monika Kutkaitytė