Alexander Lukashuk, Director of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Belarus Service, was awarded the prestigious Ales Adamovich Award, sponsored by the Belarusian PEN Center, on May 28. Lukashuk received the award for his role in creating the Service’s Liberty Library series of pocket books based on RFE/RL programming, and for his authorship of the books Adventures of ARA in Belarus and Trace of the Butterfly.
The annual literary award was first presented in 1995, one year after the death of prominent glasnost-era writer and political figure Ales Adamovich, who also mentored Nobel prize winner Svetlana Alexievich. The award recognizes the best current affairs book published in the previous year.
On presenting the award at a ceremony in Minsk on May 28, Adamovich’s daughter, Natalia, said that she was grateful that Lukashuk took one of her father’s last interviews in December 1993, just before he died at age 66 in January 1994.
In accepting the award, Lukashuk thanked his book editors Sergey Dubovtsev, Vlad Orlov, and artist Gennady Matsuri, and recalled some lines from a satirical poem written in the 1980’s about Adamovich: “Let Adamovich discover – if not asked, then don’t bother.” He remembered Adamovich as a cheerful and positive person.
The Liberty Library series, which began in 2002 as an alternative means of reaching Belarussian audiences, boasts 67 publications to date, in the form of books and DVDs, including memoirs, essays, poems, and historical anthologies. Upon publication, the books are presented to audiences throughout Belarus at gala events, and copies are sent to educational institutions, libraries, and cultural foundations.
Liberty Library books have been awarded numerous prizes -- for example, RFE/RL’s Dzmitry Bartosik received the Giedroyc Literature Prize in October 2017 for writing the year’s best non-fiction book in the Belarusian language.
RFE/RL’s Belarusian Service, known locally as Radio Svaboda, ranks first among Belarusian media on Facebook, Twitter, and VKontakte, with a combined weekly reach of almost 7.5 million views. With an average of more than 1.25 million page views per month, the Service is committed to connecting with the country’s next generation. In 2017, visits to the service’s website rose by 58 percent from the previous year.