At the Free Journalism Forum held on 1 December in the Seimas of Lithuania, the Hope for Freedom Award was presented to journalist Aleh Hruzdzilovich, who has recently been released from prison and left Belarus.
Representatives of the Lithuanian Union of Journalists said the award was a show of solidarity with independent journalists in Belarus.
“Belarusians become the award winners for the third year in a row [in 2020, it was awarded to Katsiaryna Barysevich, Alena Talkachova, Tatsiana Karavenkava, Katsiaryna Andreyeva and Daria Chultsova, in 2021, it was taken by Andrei Aliksandrau – editor’s note],” said Kazimieras Starkevičius, member of Seimas of Lithuania, at the presentation ceremony. “I am very glad that our family, as the founder of the prize, can contribute to this solemn mission.
In his speech, Aleh Hruzdzilovich mentioned the journalists who are still behind bards and whom he met in prison – Dzmitry Navazhylau, Maryna Zolatava, Andrei Skurko, Yagor Martsinovich, Andrei Aliaksandrau:
“I hope they will also be able to receive awards once they have gotten out of jail.”
Despite the difficult context, the journalist is optimistic about the future: “In August 2020, when we were working on the front lines, we didn’t fully imagine that 2020 would be different from the 2006 or 2010 presidential election campaigns. It turned out to be a real revolution. It’s gone underground now. But it is there and it is bound to be there. I am sure that future Belarusian journalists will not be ashamed of their people.”