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Estonian president awarded Freedom Prize

The Estonian president, Lennart Meri, was awarded for his efforts to promote freedom

(Keystone)

The St Gallen-based Max Schmidheiny Foundation has awarded its annual Freedom Prize jointly to the Estonian president, Lennart Meri, and the Indian entrepreneur, N.R. Narayana Murthy.

The two men received their prize money of SFr100,000 ($57,000) each at a ceremony on Saturday at the University of St Gallen.

The prize is awarded to individuals and institutions for contributions to the maintenance and development of a free social and economic order. The foundation said this year's recipients were being recognised for their efforts to promote freedom and individual responsibility.

It said Meri - who in addition to his political role is also a respected writer - had helped articulate the hopes and fears of his compatriots through his literary and cinematic works and had helped sustain a sense of Estonian identity during the Soviet occupation.

The foundation also praised the Estonian president for his social and market reforms, which it said had helped reintroduce Estonia into the fold of democratic states.

In awarding the other prize to Murthy, the jury said it had wanted to honour a man who had consistently battled against the planned economy in India, bureaucracy and the control and suppression of private initiatives.

It said Murthy had seized the opportunities offered by the new economic order to establish an innovative computer company - Infosys Technologies - that had tapped into the potential and innovative spirit of the Indian workforce.

The Max Schmidheiny prize was first awarded 23 years ago.

swissinfo with agencies


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