MINSK, 14 September (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has presented state awards to distinguished Belarusians from various walks of life. The solemn ceremony took place at the Palace of Independence on 14 September, in the run-up to the country's first celebration of the Day of People's Unity, BelTA has learned.
The head of state drew attention to the symbolism of the new holiday. “The events of 17 September 1939 became an important milestone in the history of the Belarusian nation. We have many holidays, we honor them. These are Victory Day, our religious holidays like Easter, Christmas and so on. But had it not been for 17 September , our country would not have existed. At that time, there was only a fragment of our country on the map, from the center of present-day Belarus to Mozyr. Our country was merely a small piece of land. Everything changed in September 1939 when our country got the boundaries that we sacredly guard to this day,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. He noted that in the run-up to this fateful date, the day of the reunification of Western and Eastern Belarus, a new tradition is being established - to honor distinguished Belarusians.
The president noted that true patriots, talented, hardworking, courageous and reliable people devoted to their cause and the state gathered in the Palace of Independence. They are united by one goal - to preserve the country for future generations.
Don't succumb to attacks of juvenile messengers
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, all those present are patriots who love their homeland. “We have not betrayed, we have not faltered. It is worth a lot for each of you. If someone has not understood it this year, or last year, after yesterday's events, they will get it in the near future. Don't succumb to any attacks. Especially in these juvenile messengers, Telegram channels and so on. It will subside like foam. The things that will remain are the things you should always be proud of and the things your children should cherish,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.
“Belarusians who built their first sovereign state passed a pivotal test for the strength of national unity. They passed it with dignity. All of you are reliable, sincere people. All of you have survived those difficult times. You are the ones who have shown your achievements and your solidarity at work. We were not frightened by the pandemic and were not stopped by the hybrid attacks on our statehood that continue to this day. But I think these days you have seen that we have something to respond with and someone to rely on,” the Belarusian leader said.
“You and I have a greatest responsibility. Indeed, we have thwarted the blitzkrieg, we are fighting hybrid attacks and are doing it successfully. But now it is necessary to unite not only the healthy part (who make up the overwhelming majority of the society), but also those who started faltering under the weight of yesterday's attacks,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
Vladimir Slobodchikov is an amazing person and patriot
The head of state separately mentioned Vladimir Slobodchikov who was awarded the title of People's Artist of Belarus. This great sculptor has raised an array of famous artists and laureates of prestigious sculpture awards. “An amazing person whose works celebrate love for his homeland, convey pride for the achievements of the past and present, perpetuate the memory of the tragic and heroic pages of our history, feats and heroism of our compatriots. He is a realist. This is what patriotism is about. This is an example of the very struggle for the preservation of our national values, which all of us, Belarusians, cherish so much today,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“You know, there are many talented and great people. But I appreciate greatness in those who nurture talent. If you grow professionally and achieve public acclaim, you should raise a dozen more people like you; this way you will be glorified for centuries,” the president noted.
Head of the Sculpture Department of the Belarusian State Academy of Arts, member of the Belarusian Union of Artists Vladimir Slobodchikov thanked the head of state for the high assessment of his work. He noted that if creative people put their soul into their works, they will certainly be noticed and appreciated. “When your work has heart and soul, everyone sees it. Sculpture is art without words. When an artwork has soul, it is understandable to everyone, to all nations and people from all walks of life,” Vladimir Slobodchikov said. He has been working at the Belarusian State Academy of Arts for over 40 years and has trained over 100 graduates. Over the years of work, he has come to realize that an artist draws inspiration from native land, from traditional culture: “We cannot live without traditional art. This soil nourishes us.”
People make a country strong
The head of state congratulated the entire Belarusian nation on the upcoming great holiday – the Day of People's Unity and wished them good health, inspiration and new achievements for the good of Belarus. “As our wise ancestors said, people make a country strong. And Belarus has repeatedly proved this proverb right. We perpetuate our history in public holidays so it will live on through many generations. These holidays remind us of the importance of peace, independence of the country and the cohesion of our nation,” the head of state said.
The head of state presented the Order of the Fatherland 1st Class to Viktor Sheiman who served as Head of the Belarus President Property Management Directorate from 2013 to June 2021, the Order For Service to the Homeland 3rd Class to Head of the 19th border group of the border service Vladislav Bruyev and Head of the 20th border detachment of the border service Andrei Volkov.
The Order of Honor was awarded to Deputy Finance Minister Vladislav Tatarinovich, Director of Belaruskali third mining department Aleksandr Gorbachev, tractor drivers from the agricultural companies of Negnevichi, Prinemansky and Shchorsy of Novogrudok District Leonid Doroshkevich, Igor Karanevsky and Boris Lobach. The same award was bestowed upon Natalya Tkacheva who chairs the taxes and duties inspectorate of Sovetsky District of Gomel and Viktor Shaibak, Director General of Agro-Industrial Holding of the Belarus President Property Management Directorate. The Order of Francysk Skaryna was handed over to Chairman of the Gomel Oblast branch of the Belarusian Peace Foundation Timofei Glushakov.
Lukashenko commends singer Alekhno
Aleksandr Lukashenko conferred honorary titles upon a large group of people from all walks of life. The Honored Artist of Belarus title was awarded to pop singer Ruslan Alekhno, Artistic Director of the Yanka Kupala National Academic Theater Olga Nefedova and vocalist (soloist) of the National Academic Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theater Tatyana Tretyak. Each of them wanted to say a couple of words, although initially this was not envisaged in the event scenario.
According to Ruslan Alekhno, this honorary title is a big achievement and a great honor for him. The singer thanked his family, Belarusian people, his fans and personally Aleksandr Lukashenko. “I am fully aware of the importance of this title. I will do everything to promote Belarusian pop music and to encourage the Belarusian audience to attend concerts of local performers. This title is a big responsibility, a new milestone and an impetus to keep growing professionally. Once again I express my gratitude to the country, people and you personally, Mr Lukashenko,” the singer said.
“It was not an easy year for performers, journalists, other creative professionals, artists, sculptors. They were in the public eye, and those who were not in the limelight became visible due to massive attacks on them. They have survived. Unfortunately, there are not many people like Ruslan. I could mention a couple of names, not only of our performers, but above all famous Russian artists who came to Belarus asking for help with venues, concerts, spectators, they received awards and then chickened out and cowardly fled, disappeared ... They are not artists. They are not creative professionals. They are not even cowards. They are traitors,” the head of state noted.
Aleksandr Lukashenko praised Ruslan Alekhno: “You saw him before these developments, during and after them. He is not only a talented person, he remained a patriot. This should be appreciated. I appreciate it very much. People will also appreciate it. It just takes time.”
Being an artist is not just having a voice, but also having a soul
Olga Nefedova began her speech with words of gratitude to the president, the nation, the military and healthcare professionals - all those who defended the country. She noted that today is a significant date in the history of the Yanka Kupala Theater. On 14 September 1920, the Belarusian State Theater was solemnly opened in its building. Addressing the president, the artist stressed: “I am grateful to you personally for what you did in 2013, for giving us, actors and the public, a decent and wonderful building where we will celebrate our country no matter what. Thank you.”
Tatyana Tretyak said that it is a great honor and responsibility for her to work at the Bolshoi Theater of Belarus. “No matter where I performed - in large or small venues, in small towns or big cities, in our country or abroad, in huge concert halls, with foreign conductors, singers, performers - I always kept in mind that I was representing my native country, my Belarus, that at that moment I was the face of Belarus and my native theater. I was fully aware of this responsibility,” she said.
The singer also recalled the speech of Aleksandr Lukashenko during the gala concert on 3 July. “You were absolutely right when you said that an artist's business is to do creative stuff. God gave us talent, we devoted many years of life to polishing it into perfection. And we must share this gift, this light with people, with those who come to our concerts. We must give the audience an opportunity to enjoy our performance. Most of my colleagues and those who are in attendance, we all subscribe to what you say,” she stressed.
The head of state believes that performance should be more about heart and soul and connection with the public rather than technique. “Being an artist is not just having a voice, but also having a soul. There are many who have voice but no soul. You draw inspiration from the public and national traditions. If a creative person, an athlete flee somewhere, he/she will never be either an artist or an athlete. It is regrettable,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“You have power. People cry when you sing, act, or merely talk. People can kneel, bow before you. They look at many of you with delight. And you should appreciate it,” the Belarusian leader is convinced.
In this sense, analogies can be drawn between creative people and statesmen serving people, Aleksandr Lukashenko believes. “We are completely dependent on these people, and we should feel responsibility to these people. Unless presidents and officials come to line their pockets and run away, they will do the same. True artists will stay true to their cause, they will keep in mind that this land is about people, and we are no one without them,” the president said.
Who are like-minded people?
The Honored Scientist of Belarus title was awarded to Director of the Belarusian Culture, Language and Literature Research Center of the National Academy of Sciences Aleksandr Lokotko, Professor of the Physics and General Engineering Disciplines Department of the Military Academy Valery Loiko, First Vice-Rector of Belarusian State Technological University Aleksandr Tsyganov.
As Valery Loiko noted, like-minded people gathered in the Palace of Independence. These are not those who think the same way, but those who think about the same thing: how to make Belarus prosperous. “Those who have received awards should take new steps forward, be stronger and act as an example for everyone with whom they work in order to share their knowledge. We need to work. I think we will all work more fruitfully for our country to flourish,” he said.
Honorary titles were presented to educators. The Honored Teacher of Belarus title was conferred upon the Russian language and literature teacher of Secondary School No. 1 of Krugloye Oleg Golovkov. The Honored Worker of Education of Belarus title was presented to Rector of Belarusian State Pedagogical University Aleksandr Zhuk, Director of the Brest State College of Communications Mikhail Kuish, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs of Vitebsk State Medical University Natalya Konevalova.
Member of the Belarusian Union of Artists Vasily Kostyuchenko and Artistic Director of the Song and Dance Ensemble Medunitsa Valentina Kondratyeva were awarded the Honored Figure of Arts of Belarus title.
The Honored Doctor of Belarus title was awarded to Deputy Chief Physician (palliative care) of the Mogilev Oblast Cancer Center and Deputy Chief Physician (surgery) of the Mogilev Oblast Hospital Anton Lysov and Igor Savostenko, as well as to head of the operating unit of the surgery department of the First Military Hospital of the Border Guard Service of the Republic of Belarus Sergei Dedunov, Head of the ENT department of the Minsk Oblast Children's Hospital Yelena Korzhenevich.
The head of state also awarded the Honored Worker of Agriculture of Belarus title to the head of a farm in Dribin District Vladimir Ring, and the Honored Coach of Belarus title to rhythmic gymnastics coach of the National Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympics Training Center Marina Lobach.
Medal for Courage for heroes of our time
Among those awarded with state awards were representatives of the law enforcement. Some of them were given the Medal for Courage, but due to certain peculiarities of their work, the names and faces of these people cannot yet be disclosed to the general public. “These are heroes of our time. Of course, we cannot name their names, unfortunately, but they perform very serious military and urgent operations. This medal is a rarity. These guys risk their lives defending us, they carry out difficult, dangerous operations. Guys, thank you very much!” the president said.