President Zelensky, First Lady Zelenska present ‘National Legend of Ukraine’ award to prominent Ukrainians

President Zelensky, First Lady Zelenska present ‘National Legend of Ukraine’ award to prominent Ukrainians

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska have participated in the ceremony of awarding prominent Ukrainians with the ‘National Legend of Ukraine’ award.

The relevant statement was made by the Office of the President of Ukraine, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

“This award, launched a year ago, despite its short history, has an important meaning and purpose. This is a proper tribute by the state to its talents, geniuses and heroes. Those who are among us, and we should notice them. Those who, unfortunately, are no longer with us, but we must remember them,” the President of Ukraine said.

According to Zelensky, the talented and heroic citizens of Ukraine have been receiving this award for two years.

“But, this year its meaning has changed somewhat – we award not only legendary representatives of Ukraine in music, theater, and sports. The Russian Federation has changed the meaning of our lives, so today we award all of those who every day, both inside the state and outside, protect our independence and sovereignty with their talent and their work – different but extremely important,” Zelensky noted.

According to the Decree of the President of Ukraine, this year the annual award has been awarded to nine Ukrainians, and three of them – posthumously. In particular, People’s Artist of Ukraine Maria Prymachenko was honored posthumously. The award was received by Ihor Kozhan, Director General of Andrey Sheptytsky National Museum in Lviv, where the artist’s works are currently being exhibited.

“Her name is included in the World Encyclopedia of Art. UNESCO declared 2009 the year of Maria Prymachenko. And, on May 5 of this year, her painting ‘The Flowers Grew Around the Fourth Block’ was sold at a charity auction for almost UAH 15 million, which were donated to the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. That is, even today, a quarter of a century after her death, Maria Prymachenko lives and actually continues to help Ukraine. And today, Ukraine finally says ‘thank you’ to her and pays tribute to her in accordance with her contribution and merits, officially and forever recognizes that she is our great Ukrainian artist. A great Ukrainian woman. Maria Oksentiivna Prymachenko is a national legend of Ukrainian painting,” the President of Ukraine told.

In addition, the ‘National Legend of Ukraine’ award was received by Chief of the Guard of the Fire and Rescue Unit of the Main Department of the Ukrainian State Emergency Service in Mykolaiv Region, Civil Protection Service Lieutenant Ihor Ivasykov. Thanks to his actions, seventeen people were rescued from under the rubble of Mykolaiv Regional State Administration.

The ‘National Legend of Ukraine’ award was also presented to two doctors, Neurosurgeon of the Department of the Institute of Neurosurgery named after Academician Romodanov of the National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine Andrii Svyst and Pediatrician of the Children’s Medical Center Dobrobut Olha Svyst.

“A family of doctors who ended up in Bucha almost by accident at the beginning of the war. Unable to leave the city, they called friends and asked them to adopt their children – aged five and two – if they did not return. For two weeks under constant shelling, without proper equipment, they performed extremely complex operations, rescuing seriously wounded children,” Zelensky noted.

In addition, the ‘National Legend of Ukraine’ award was received by Anatolii Babichev, Passenger Car Conductor at the Kyiv-Passenger station of Ukrzaliznytsia JSC.

“For nine days non-stop, his train has been evacuating people from Kostiantynivka, Kharkiv, Kramatorsk and Lyman. His wife Natalia worked in the same train, in another car. On the night of March 13, she died during the shelling of the train. Despite the personal tragedy, Anatolii did not break down. He returned to service, to saving people,” Zelensky said.

Hanna But, a teacher at Melitopol Vocational Agrarian Lyceum, also became a laureate of the ‘National Legend of Ukraine’ award.

“Despite the occupation, she raises her students to be patriots and is not afraid to tell them the truth, organized pro-Ukrainian rallies under the occupation, despite the threats and violent actions of the invaders. The video, where she, wrapped in the flag of Ukraine, demands more decisive actions from the international community, got into almost all the world’s media and social networks. Millions of people on the planet have heard: Melitopol is Ukraine,” Zelensky stressed.

The Head of State also presented the ‘National Legend of Ukraine’ award to Tata Kepler, a public figure and volunteer.

“Just like thousands of volunteers, she has been helping our army for eight years in a row. And it is impossible to calculate for sure how many important things for the lives of our soldiers, powerful people, were found and delivered during this time: first-aid kits, medical backpacks, tourniquets, body armor and other equipment. I want to thank all the volunteers of Ukraine in her person. Thank you very much,” the President of Ukraine told.

The award was also given to Europe’s 2004 best football player, Head Coach of the Ukrainian national football team in 2016-2021, Hero of Ukraine Andriy Shevchenko.

“The legend of Dynamo Kyiv and the national team of Ukraine. The Champions League winner and Golden Ball winner. His name is included in the list of the hundred best football players in history. These and many other titles made him famous throughout the world. And now they are helping him rally the whole world to support and help Ukraine. Ambassador of the UNITED24 platform, our great athlete, great champion, our legend Andriy Shevchenko,” Zelensky noted.

Anatolii Solovianenko, a leading stage master of the National Opera of Ukraine in 1963-1992, a national artist and Hero of Ukraine, was posthumously awarded the title of ‘National Legend of Ukraine’ for his significant creative work and strengthening of the country’s cultural glory. The artist’s wife Svitlana and son Anatolii received the award.

Head of Flight Safety Service - Senior Inspector-Pilot of the Command of the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Hero of Ukraine Colonel Ihor Bedzai was posthumously awarded as well. His wife Yuliia and daughter Mariia received the award.

“The top class military pilot. Hero of Ukraine. Behind these titles is a whole life devoted to service for the benefit of the state. Impressive qualities and deeds. His experience is dozens of important combat missions. His students are 15 crews. His courage is ten units of aviation equipment, which he took to Mykolaiv from the blocked airfield in Saky in 2014 under extremely high risk conditions. His example is 217 warriors from Crimea who, following him, remained loyal to the oath and to Ukraine,” the Head of State said.

On May 7, 2022, during a search and rescue operation, Ihor Bedzai’s Mi-14 was hit by a missile from an enemy aircraft. As a result, the colonel, defending his native land, remained in the sky forever.

Those present at the ceremony honored the memory of those who gave their lives for Ukraine with a moment of silence.

President Zelensky emphasized that all those honored are the treasure of Ukraine, and stressed the importance of preserving their achievements. After Ukraine’s victory over the enemy, talents must be passed from one generation to another, Zelensky added.


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