Aleksandr Lukashenko presents cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky with Order of Friendship of Peoples
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has presented cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky with an Order of Friendship of Peoples.
Oleg Novitsky came to the Palace of Independence together with his family and was given a tour of the main halls of the palace.
"Oleg, you have finally descended from space, to our ‘sinful’ earth!" Aleksandr Lukashenko said when greeting the cosmonaut.
"It is not sinful. It is the best!" Oleg Novitsky replied.
"You can see better from above," the president said.
"I am so happy to be back home," the cosmonaut emphasized.
Aleksandr Lukashenko talked with the family of the hero of Russia and jokingly lamented that Oleg Novitsky did not bring his colleagues from the International Space Station with him to his homeland of Belarus. "I hinted that you bring not only your family with you but also your American colleagues. They are welcome here. If needed, we will reform them quickly," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The head of state described Oleg Novitsky as "a real Slavic man, both inside and outside." "You look Belarusian, Russian (outwardly even) and partly, probably, Ukrainian. You are a true Slavic man. You are doing a lot for your homeland,” the present noted. “Sooner or later you will be back on this land. Therefore, keep in touch with your roots. You are someone who unites peoples," the president emphasized.
According to the cosmonaut, the award will be kept on the Belarusian land. "It's a very high honor," he said. “This is a very high assessment of my work. I really love Belarus. This is the land where I was born and raised, by my parents, friends, school. Probably, this education still helps in life. I always know that this is my home. I am always welcome here.”
Oleg Novitsky stressed that he will always work for the benefit of two countries, Belarus and Russia, even if he retires from cosmonautics. He cannot divide them, the cosmonaut said. "This is our Slavic union. We should always be together. We should always lend a helping hand to each other, rejoice together and grieve together, stand up for each other and, if necessary, go to war together. That's it," he said.
"Everything is right," the Belarusian leader supported his position.
The head of state added that several people from Belarus are currently enrolled in the space training program. He jokingly asked whether Yulia, the wife of Oleg Novitsky, would agree to fly to space if such a need arises. In response, she said she is ready to fly with her husband into space.
"Oleg as your commander?" the president said.
"Naturally," Yulia Novitskaya said.
"I have to participate in the selection first, right?" the cosmonaut remarked.
"So, start training just in case," the head of state joked back.
Speaking on a serious note about the training of Belarusian cosmonauts, Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed hope that Oleg Novitsky will be able to join their selection and training.