For the first time, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy presented the National Legend of Ukraine award to prominent personalities. The ceremony, which took place at the Mariyinsky Palace, was also attended by First Lady Olena Zelenska.
The Head of State noted that he was proud to present the awards to the contemporaries who had become legends.
"We consider all of you true legends of our country. Living legends. The fullest and most important meaning is that the living legends are in front of us. I am grateful that I’ve seen your work, the result of your work in culture, sports, art since childhood. That's why we want to congratulate you," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
According to the President, Ukrainian streets and avenues should be named in honor of talented modern figures who "live next to us, walk among us."
"How many more ingenious poems would Taras Shevchenko have written, how many more unique buildings would Horodecki have created, how many more champions would Lobanovskyi have brought up if they had been inspired by a daily walk along the boulevard, a street named after them," the President said.
He stressed that the applause a person hears, the flowers a person sees, and the award a person can come on the stage for and deliver a speech he or she may have prepared since childhood are valuable.
"In the end, it is important to simply understand: my homeland sees me, knows me, appreciates me. Unfortunately, for a long time we had a different situation… We strive to change that forever. And we are taking the first step today. I initiated a new state award - "National Legend of Ukraine". Every year we will present it to our prominent fellow citizens who have reached the top results in the field of culture, sports, science. Today, the first awards were given to seven outstanding Ukrainians. Seven big names. Seven national legends," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
Then the President introduced each of the laureates. This year the award "National Legend of Ukraine" was received by: singer, People's Artist of Ukraine and Hero of Ukraine Sofia Yevdokymenko-Rotaru; poet-singer, playwright, screenwriter, People's Artist and Hero of Ukraine Yuriy Rybchinsky; General Director - Artistic Director of the National Honored Academic Dance Ensemble of Ukraine named after Pavlo Virsky, People's Artist and Hero of Ukraine Mykhailo Vantukh; painter, People's Artist of Ukraine Ivan Marchuk; ballet dancer, choreographer, People's Artist of Ukraine Olena Potapova; Honored Master of Sports, Honored Coach of Ukraine Oleh Blokhin. The President posthumously awarded composer, People's Artist and Hero of Ukraine Myroslav Skoryk and presented the award to his wife Adriana Yaroslavivna.
"Looking ahead, I want to say: someone has not seen today his favorite poetess, actress, musician, athlete. This does not mean that we do not consider them legends - it means that Ukraine has hundreds of legends. All of them will be honored by Ukraine. This award will take place annually. And every year, just like this year, on my own behalf and on behalf of our state, I will bow and say "thank you". To each of you," Volodymyr Zelenskyy summed up.