Boston: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is among five people named on Thursday as recipients of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for acting to protect democracy.
Zelenskyy was chosen because of the way he has ''marshaled the spirit, patriotism and untiring sacrifice of the Ukrainian people in a life-or-death fight for their country,'' as Russia pours in troops and assaults cities and towns, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation said.
The foundation said four US officials were chosen for standing up for free and fair elections, as the system is challenged in ways it has never been before.
They are: Republican US Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Fulton County, Georgia, elections worker Wandrea “Shaye” Moss.
Caroline Kennedy and her son, Jack Schlossberg, will present the awards on May 22 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. The award was created by the family of the late president to honour public figures who risk their careers by embracing unpopular positions for the greater good, and is named after Kennedy's 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, ''Profiles in Courage.''
''There is no more important issue facing our country, and the world, today than the fight for democracy,'' Kennedy said in a statement. ''The war in Ukraine has shown the world that we can't take freedom for granted, and the courage of our elected officials in the US reminds us that as citizens we each have a responsibility to protect our democracy and exercise our fundamental right to vote.'' Cheney chaired the Republican House Conference before being ousted from her post last year because of her unrelenting criticism of former President Donald Trump and statements blaming him for the violence at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The foundation said Cheney “broke with most in her party, urged fidelity to the Constitution, and stood her ground with honor and conviction,” and that she has remained a “consistent and courageous voice in defense of democracy.” Michigan was one of the battleground states where Trump allies demanded further review of the 2020 election.
Benson defended the certification of the results. Protestors showed up at her home one evening in December 2020, angry about what they incorrectly said was voter fraud leading to Trump's loss. The foundation said Benson defended the will of Michigan voters, repeatedly refused to back down from fulfilling the duties of her office and continues to speak out about the risks to free and fair elections.
Bowers, a Republican, broke ranks with many in his party in December 2020 when he rejected a request from Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani for the Arizona Legislature to step in and replace electors legally pledged for Joe Biden with others who would support Trump.