White Crow Awards 2021

The White Crow is a prestigious award given to people who perform courageous acts to defend truth, justice, and the public interest. The award ceremony is held annually on November 17, the Day of the Fight for Freedom and Democracy marking the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.

White Crow was founded in 2008 by the NGOs Fair-Play Alliance and VIA IURIS, who awarded it jointly until 2018. Since 2019, the organization of the award has been taken over by Bystriny (“Currents”), a civic association led by anti-corruption activist Zuzana Wienk. Bystriny supports regional civic initiatives, communities and, activists across Slovakia, motivated by the need to restore trust in institutions and within Slovak society. Since 2008, the White Crow has been awarded to 29 laureates.

For the first time, three women received the White Crow Award in 2021.

Ms. Lenka Ticháková is an independent municipal leader in Varín. She was the first to be recognized at the 2021 White Crow awards for her work to change a street name in her municipality named after the Former President Jozef Tiso, who oversaw the mass deportation of Jews starting in 1940. Ms.Ticháková scoured historical archives, worked with history experts, and pushed to change the street’s name to Kamence. Her work to recognize the former president for the damage he inflicted on the people of Slovakia instead of honor him as a hero by naming this street after him, has been met with criticism from many members of her community who believe that he was a Slovak hero despite being convicted for ‘state treason, betrayal of the antifascist partisan insurrection and collaboration with Nazism” by the Czechoslovak National Court in 1947.

The second recipient of the White Crow award was Director of the State Institute for Drug Control /acronym in Slovak is ŠÚKL/ Zuzana Baťová.  Mrs. Baťová became known to the Slovak public after she was verbally attacked by current Finance Minister Igor Matovič /former Prime Minister/ after he arranged for the Russian vaccine Sputnik V to be imported to Slovakia. During the pandemic crisis, the institute carried out an independent evaluation of the unregistered Sputnik vaccine which concluded that ŠÚKL could not evaluate the rate of risk and advantage of Sputnik V, because the producer did not provide 80 percent of the needed data. Mrs.Baťová faced unprecedented media and political pressure, especially on the domestic scene. Mockery, threats and deaths threats were amongst them. She did not cave in and became a symbol of professionalism and independence.

The third award for long-term contribution goes to psychologist Sona Holúbková, who has been dedicated to people with disabilities for thirty years. At the beginning of her career, while she was working in a daycare centre for people with disabilities, she was very displeased with what she witnessed – clients were enclosed there by the state and separated from the rest of society. She decided to sacrifice her life to create new ways to encourage disabled people to live more independently- also thanks to her, several laws were changed, allowing disabled people to help them to achieve that goal.

On this year’s anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, Ambassador Bridget Brink supported the White Crow awards to honor these Slovak women for extraordinary civic activism, justice, health care and minority rights.

We congratulate the winners of these awards and wish them well in their ongoing fight for a better Slovakia.