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Mandela finally picks up his Lenin Peace Prize

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 30 2002 12:00 a.m. MST

Twelve years after being awarded the Soviet Union's Lenin International Peace Prize, former South African President Nelson Mandela has finally picked up the prize.

The Soviet Union that gave him the award in the twilight of its rule no longer exists, and the prison cell where Mandela spent 27 years has long stood empty, but the message behind the prize still resonates.

"Much has changed in the world since the award was given to us, but the world's need for the human solidarity which that generous gesture demonstrated remains as much as ever," Mandela said Monday at the home of the Russian ambassador in Pretoria, South Africa.

Mandela, 84, who led South Africa into democracy and out of apartheid, was awarded the prize in 1990, the same year he was released from prison.

He visited Russia in 1999 as South Africa's first democratically elected president — after the fall of the Soviet Union — but returned without the prize.

About two years ago, he asked his aides to follow up on the award and on Monday, Russian Ambassador Andrei Kushakov handed him the gold medallion.

Mandela noted that it was the Soviet Union and other socialist countries whose support of the anti-apartheid struggle stood out in the international efforts to topple the racist regime.

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