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Ted Turner among first winners of Gorbachev awards

By Rich Phillips, CNN
Ted Turner and the two other winners were personally selected by Mikhail Gorbachev.
Ted Turner and the two other winners were personally selected by Mikhail Gorbachev.
  • CNN founder Ted Turner one of three men honored with Gorbachev Awards
  • The London gala concert coincided with Mikhail Gorbachev's 80th birthday
  • Also honored was Timothy Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web
  • Kenyan Evans Wadongo, inventor of solar lamp, wins technology award

(CNN) -- Three men whose achievements are being recognized for their role in changing the world are the inaugural winners of the Gorbachev awards.

The three winners, including CNN founder Ted Turner, were personally selected by Mikhail Gorbachev and honored at a gala event to celebrate his 80th birthday in London on Wednesday.

The other winners are Timothy Berners-Lee, the British physicist and computer scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web; and Evans Wadongo, a Kenyan engineer who invented a solar lamp that would become a clean, healthy alternative to wood fires as a source of light for tens of thousands of Africans. Wadongo was also named a CNN Hero in 2010.

"These three people have each, in their own way, changed the world for their fellow men and women in ways which affect all our lives," Gorbachev said in a news release.

The awards are the centerpiece of the Gorby 80 gala concert, which brought together artists from all over the world to honor the former leader of the Soviet Union. The event was hosted by actors Sharon Stone and Kevin Spacey.

The concert raised money for cancer charities, including MacMillian Cancer Support in England, and the Raisa Gorbachev Children's Institute for Transplantology and Hematology in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The awards have been organized into three categories reflecting reforms Gorbachev undertook as the Soviet leader.

Berners-Lee was given the award for perestroika, or reform, for inventing the World Wide Web in 1989, changing the way the world shares information.

The award for glasnost, or openness, was given to Turner, who helped transform the world's media with his 24-hour global news operation.

Wadongo, 25, won the award for contributions to modern science and technology, or uskoreniye.

"Each and every one possesses the ability to make a difference and the Gorbachev Awards have been established to those people who achieve this and to provide inspiration to all of us to try," said the former Russian president and Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

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