Quadriga was an annual German award sponsored by Netzwerk Quadriga gGmbH, a non-profit organization based in Berlin. The award recognized four people or groups for their commitment to innovation, renewal, and a pioneering spirit through political, economic, and cultural activities.
The award consisted of a small statue resembling the quadriga atop the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Werkstatt Deutschland presented the award annually on German Unity Day, which commemorates German reunification in 1990. The award was presented by prominent individuals, including Viktor Yushchenko, Bernard Kouchner, and Mikhail Gorbachev.
The award was first given in 2003. For the first two years, the award ceremony took place at Konzerthaus Berlin. From 2005 until 2008, the ceremony was held at Komische Oper Berlin opera house. In 2009, the award ceremony was hosted at the seat of the Foreign Office of Germany.
The announcement that Vladimir Putin would receive the award in 2011 was widely condemned. As a result of protests by Quadriga board members and former recipients, the 2011 awards and ceremonies were cancelled. Likewise, the Quadriga was not awarded in 2012.
The announcement that Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin would be awarded the prize led to a public outcry. Quadriga board members Cem Özdemir of the German Green Party, Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia, and Heidelberg University history professor Edgar Wolfrum stepped down in protest. Former recipients Olafur Eliasson and Václav Havel decided to return their awards. The New York Times commented that from the volume of outcry the ranks of people feeling Putin, a former East Germany-assigned KGB agent and later chief, had rolled back democracy and human rights in Russia are apparently quite large. The organisers decided not to make any awards in 2011 as a result of the controversy. They released a statement on 16 July 2011 saying they acted "in light of the growing and unbearable pressure and the danger of further escalation" and that they deeply regretted hearing news of Havel's decision. The awards ceremony scheduled for that October was therefore cancelled.
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