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Belarus’ activist, Slovak pilot among Freedom Prize winners

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Prague, Nov 10 (CTK) – Belarusian opposition politician Vincuk Viacorka and two Slovaks, photographer Tibor Kovac and pilot Tugomir Seferovic, are the new foreign winners of the Prize of Freedom and Democracy awarded by the Czech Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (USTR), Darja Cablova said on Friday.

Cablova, from the USTR, told CTK that the prize also goes to two Czech female writers, historian Zora Dvorakova and art historian Katerina Tuckova.

The laureates will receive the prizes from USTR director Zdenek Hazdra and the USTR Council chairwoman Emilie Benesova in the Senate under the auspices of Senate chairman Milan Stech on November 14.

Vincuk Viacorka is a linguist and former head of the Belarusian National Front party associating the national and liberal opposition. In his homeland, he was persecuted and imprisoned for promoting democratic reforms.

Tibor Kovac, then aged 31, photographed the invasion of the east Slovak centre Kosice by the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact troops in August 1968. He nearly paid with his life for it, as a stray bullet caused him a severe head wound that made him confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

The late pilot Tugomir Seferovic has been awarded in memoriam for having co-organised the kidnapping of the Czechoslovak CSA air carrier’s plane from a domestic route to the West.

Dvorakova and Tuckova are winning the prize for their outstanding contribution to the reflection of modern history.

Dvorakova is the author of a book on Milada Horakova, a Czechoslovak democratic politician murdered by the Communist regime, and a book on the anti-communist resistance movement.

Tuckova, on her part, found courage to depict sensitive chapters of recent Czech history such as the post-war expulsion of Germans and the fates of people during the communist period in her novels, the USTR said.

Since its establishment in 2008, the USTR has been annually awarding the Vaclav Benda Prize for contribution to the renewal of democracy and freedom in Czechoslovakia during the wartime (1939-1945) and communist (1948-1989) periods.

Since last year, the prize has been extended to include two more categories – an outstanding contribution to the reflection of modern history and admirable acts within the defence of the principles of democracy, freedom and human rights.

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