Aleksandr Lukashenko presents awards For Spiritual Revival and special prizes 

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The state is always ready to back initiatives designed to improve all the aspects of life. The statement was made by Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko at the ceremony held on 9 January to bestow awards For Spiritual Revival, the Belarus President’s special awards for people of culture and art, and the Belarus President’s special award Belarusian Sport Olympus 2013.

Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out a good tradition to gather together around the Christmas time to thank wonderful people who made a great contribution to the spiritual revival of the Fatherland.

According to the President, “this is a good opportunity to speak about eternal fundamentals and about our path.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko began his speech from a landmark event for the Belarusian Orthodox Church and the state, which is the appointment of Metropolitan Pavel as the Patriarch Exarch of All Belarus. According to the President, Hope for changes in the internal life of the church, more active social service and educational efforts of the church is attached to the appointment of Metropolitan Pavel in Belarus.

“It is very important for us that a wise person, who has experience and who has seen the world, has become the new leader of the Belarusian Orthodox Church,” the Belarusian head of state said. The President assured that the state will aid Metropolitan Pavel in implementing his initiatives. The head of state asked the nation to accept Metropolitan Pavel as a person akin in spirit.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Belarusians love Metropolitan Filaret, Distinguished Patriarch Exarch of All Belarus, who had given 35 years of his life in service of the church in Belarus. The President hopes that Filaret will be able to recover from the illness and “will always be in our ranks”.

The head of state also pointed out that nowadays the orthodox church is one of the spiritual pillars of the society and the only religious denomination, with which the Belarusian government had signed an agreement on cooperation.

According to Metropolitan Pavel, his predecessor Metropolitan Filaret has advanced interaction between the state and the church to a brand-new level. “I will do my utmost to continue what Metropolitan Filaret has done. Instead of destroying we should create,” he said.

Metropolitan Pavel said he was satisfied with the fact that focus is laid on spiritual revival in Belarus around the Christmas time. In his opinion, it fosters the prosperity of the country. He also underlined that the words spoken by the President represent a clearly outlined program that the head of the Belarusian church should follow.

Metropolitan Pavel conveyed blessings, peace and love from Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill to the Belarusian President and the entire Belarusian nation.

Speaking about the social mission of culture and humanitarian knowledge, the President remarked that nowadays it is often said that conventional morale is being replaced by wise egoism since success stems from financial interests. “But any material wellbeing needs a solid spiritual foundation. Calls for rejecting the cultural originality for the sake of globalization are now followed by more and more frequent calls for getting back to time-tried norms and ideals,” the head of state said.

“On the one hand, “old” Europe is dominated by adherents of the so-called neo-liberal morals. On the other hand, the East, in particularly, China, believes that progress stems from the continuity between the past and the present. In Russia the movement in favor of progress based on experience and traditions is gaining pace,” the President remarked.

Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that like a pendulum the destiny of the Belarusian people had always fluctuated between two geopolitical poles — the East and the West. The Belarusian culture has clear traces of the influence of the Russian culture, Western European and Asian ones. “But still we have preserved our identity, more in some aspects than in other ones. The world recognizes us as Belarusians and it is worth a lot,” the head of state said.

“It is time to choose what will become the idea to unite all Belarusians, the idea that everyone — from academicians to peasants — will believe,” the President believes. “It relies on patriotism and the readiness to preserve its legacy. And such things cannot be transferred genetically. They should be shaped through interest in history, culture of the nation,” he added.

"Our history has never been a beautiful fairy-tale. Belarus is a crossroads of European and Asian routes that has seen many wars and interventions. But however hard they may have tried, they have not been able to enslave this courageous nation. Thanks to the belief and spiritual force of the ancestors Belarus came back from ashes like a phoenix," the head of state remarked.

The President believes that reliance on the heroic legacy should be the foundation for the upbringing of citizens. The celebration of the 70th anniversary of Belarus’ liberation and the Great Victory should become a powerful stimulus for the patriotic uplift. “But our history is more than the events of those war years. It includes the Polotsk principality and the Turov principality where seedlings of our statehood and culture cropped up. It includes works and thoughts of enlighteners Euphrosyne of Polotsk and Kirill of Turov, Francysk Skaryna and Nicolaus Hussovianus of the Renaissance Age, fathers of the new-age Belarusian culture Yanka Kupala and Yakub Kolas. It includes the technological and cultural breakthrough of the Soviet years and our hard work to create the sovereign Belarusian state,” the President said. “We should not discard positive aspects of this legacy so that it could bolster the spiritual platform of the state,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

The national culture should not be treated simplistically, only as folklore or works in Belarusian, remarked Aleksandr Lukashenko. “Our culture has many sides. It unites the spiritual experience of different nations and confessions, all kinds of art where the people’s talent is manifested. We have no right to and should not discard it,” the President stressed.

“Our culture should be the sphere of enlightenment and upbringing. It is necessary to develop humanistic traditions of the Belarusian art, support the standards of national art schools,” the head of state believes.

Aleksandr Lukashenko quoted Belarusian writer Vladimir Korotkevich, who said once that every man carries his own sky with him. “Therefore, while lamenting the not so ideal state of affairs around you I would like you not to rush and blame the authorities for it. The authorities and the intellectuals share the responsibility for the country in equal measure,” the head of state said.

The President stressed that key awards of the year reflected two aspects of culture — the spiritual one and the physical one.

Aleksandr Lukashenko presented five awards For Spiritual Revival to Bishop Sofrony of Mogilev and Mstislavl, the Republican Children's Hospital for Medical Rehabilitation, the Bykhov psycho-neurological boarding house, the Belarusian Children's Fund, and Olga Chemodanova, chief of the state inspectorate for juvenile affairs of the public security department of the Minsk District Executive Committee.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also presented ten special prizes of the President of the Republic of Belarus to people of culture and art, namely the team of authors of the Belarusian TV and Radio Company: editor Yelena Bormotova, director Maria Zhukova and head of the cultural news department Mikhail Revutsky; the team of authors of the children's TV music competition "I Can Sing!" of the Second National TV Channel: Distinguished Figure of Art of the Russian Federation Dmitry Astrakhan, executive producer of the special projects directorate Yelena Lobach, director of the special projects directorate Anzhela Mikulskaya; members of the Belarusian Union of Painters Tatyana Rudenko and Yuri Rudenko; the circus art studio Arena; the Grodno Oblast Puppet Theater; deputy headmaster for education of Novopolotsk School No.3, conductor of Zvonkiye Golosa exemplary choir Albert Kozhushkevich; member of the Belarusian Union of Painters Vladimir Kozhukh; Editor-in-Chief of the Polymya magazine (Zvyazda publishing house) Nikolai Metlitsky; the Pamyat Serdtsa folk vocal group of veterans of war, labor, and the Armed Forces from the national palace of culture for veterans; Director of the Antopol Regional Crafts Center (Drogichin District, Brest Oblast) Galina Stepanyuk.

The Belarusian Sports Olympus prize has been bestowed upon Lyudmila Drozd, chief rowing and canoeing coach and teacher of the Minsk Oblast state school of Olympic reserve, Anatoly Lobachev, coach and teacher of the weightlifting department of the Mogilev state school of Olympic reserve, and Marina Protasova, coach and teacher of Grodno specialized school of Olympic reserve for children and youth No.3. “Their ability to bring up champions is also a contribution to the spiritual strength of the nation,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko congratulated all the prize winners and wished them to strive for new accomplishments in light of the high praise of their efforts.