Lithuanian govt awards 2020 Freedom Prize to ex-Belarusian presidential candidate Tikhanovskaya
The Lithuanian government has awarded the 2020 Freedom Prize to former Belarusian presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, her Telegram channel reported on Wednesday.
"Today, Lithuania marks the 30th anniversary of Freedom Defenders' Day. The Lithuanian government awards the Freedom Prize every year on this day. The 2020 prize has been awarded to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and the Belarusian people, who are peacefully opposing violence and lawlessness in their country," Tikhanovskaya's press service said.
Tikhanovskaya decided to donate the prize's monetary part of 5,000 euros to the families of deceased Belarusian protesters.
Tikhanovskaya spoke at the acceptance ceremony in the Lithuanian Seimas to underline the importance of freedom for Belarusians as well as for Lithuanians.
"Why did brave Lithuanians sacrifice their lives 30 years ago? And why are millions of Belarusians risking their lives now? The reason is simple. They dare to seek freedom. The regime may think that by crushing us with their repression machines they may crush our spirit of freedom and dignity. It did not happen to Lithuania, and it will not happen to Belarus. There is no way back," Tikhanovskaya said.
Tikhanovskaya ran for president in Belarus in 2020 after the Central Elections Commission denied registration to her husband Sergei Tikhanovsky's campaign. Tikhanovsky was later detained.
According to the official results of the election, Tikhanovskaya garnered slightly more than 10% of the vote, coming in second. Incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko, who has served in the office since 1994, was declared the winner again.
A number of EU countries have recognized Tikhanovskaya as the leader of the Belarusian opposition.
The ex-candidate moved to Lithuania several days after the election held on August 9, 2020.