On April 28th, during his official visit to Prague, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky received a special one of a kind gift from Czech President Petr Pavel, in form of a presentational engraved CZ-75 "Order of the White Lion" pistol
It's well known how eastern European Countries are among the staunchest supporters and suppliers of Ukraine in its resistance against the Russian invasion: the former members of the Warsaw Pact won't easily forget the decades of communist dictatorship that was imposed upon them, and fiercely enforced, by the USSR after World War II.
It's no wonder that the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – upon his State vist to Prague escorted by Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová, back on the 28th of April – received a very special gift from Petr Pavel, the sitting Czech President: a CZ-75 "Order of the White Lion" semi-automatic pistol, more specifically the 22nd of 100 samples ordered from Česká Zbrojovka last year directly by the Office of the President of Czech Republic to celebrate the centennial of Czech Republic's highest state honor.
Established in 1922 in what was then Czechoslovakia, the Order of White Lion ("Řád Bílého Lva") is awarded to both Czech citizens and foreigners for outstanding services to the Czech Republic, eminent contributions to the defense and security of the state, and for enhancing the nation's international reputation.
The CZ-75 "Order of the White Lion" pistol is richly decorated with Czech national symbols, in the form of linden tree leaves and a double-tailed lion. The controls, extractor, grip screws, and magazine base plate are gold-plated.
A 14k gold shield with a crowned, two-tailed lion from the lesser coat of arms of the Czech Republic is set into the right-hand side of the frame, which is manufactured out of chromed stainless steel, just like the slide. The pistol is entirely hand-made and hand-fit.
Each pistol in the CZ 75 Order of the White Lion edition is housed in a case made from three types of wood: like the pistol grips, the case is made of maple and the sides are made of luxurious birch root. The lid is made of walnut and connected to the case by two tricolor ribbons. The interior of the case is lined with plush microfiber; the outside of the lid is dominated by a relief that depicts the Order of the White Lion.
In the specific case of the pistol donated to Volodymyr Zelensky (serial number RBL-022), the inner plush lining of the case is blue and features a metal plate engraved with the words "From the Czech people to the heroic Ukrainian people – Glory to Ukraine!– Petr Pavel, President of the Czech Republic" in Ukrainian cyrillic.
For modern western politics, a handgun is definitely an unusual State gift; but the sitting Czech President Petr Pavel is himself an unusual politician. Elected back in January 2023 as an independent in a center-right coalition (SPOLU) and in charge since March, Petr Pavel comes from a highly celebrated military career, started with his enlistment as a private in then-Czechoslovakian Army in 1983 and concluded with a honorable discharge in 2018 as a full General.
In his long years of service, Petr Pavel distinguished himself for a long list of successful operations such as the evacuation of sieged French UNPROFOR troops from the Karin Base in Croatia, in January 1993.
Beloved and admired by Czech soldiers for his positive attitude towards his servicemen, his custom to lead from the front and to show courage and stoicism even under direct fire, Petr Pavel served as the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic from 2012 to 2014 and as the Chair of NATO Military Committee from 2015 to 2018, becoming the first officer from a former Warsaw Pact Country to be appointed to such a position.
Regardless of any other consideration, anyway, the CZ-75 "Order of the White Lion" pistol can definitely be considered, by its own right, an exceptional creation and a perfect example of the stellar levels of quality, precision, and aesthetic perfection that Czech gunmaking is so proud of.
Definitely a special firearm, for a very small number of special individuals, that all gun enthusiasts and firearm collectors worldwide will look at with admiration – and possibly, with a tidy bit of envy.