"A free word cannot be suppressed. Lithuanian journalists cannot, have not, are not and will not be indifferent to what is happening just a couple of hours away from Vilnius. There - in Minsk - people are systematically beaten, injured and persecuted. Belarusian colleagues who have suffered while performing their professional duties will from now on be awarded the Freedom and Hope Prize," a statement said on Thursday.

Starkevicius is behind the idea to establish such a prize for Belarusian journalists and his family has become its patron.

"In this case, we really want to promote the feeling of hope and freedom for Belarusian journalists specifically," Danius Radzevicius, chairman of the Lithuanian Union of Journalists, told BNS.

In his words, Belarusian journalists who talk, write and show about the most important events, about people's lives and relations with the government every day are under enormous pressure.

The prize will be awarded every year on December 10 when the International Human Rights Day is observed.