The Nobel Foundation has backed away from a controversial decision to invite the ambassadors of Russia, Belarus and Iran to the Nobel Prize award ceremony after facing widespread criticism.
The Foundation announced in a press release on Saturday that ambassadors from the three countries would not be invited, after initially saying that it wanted to include even those who do not share the values of the Nobel Prize.
Ukraine condemned the decision to invite the ambassadors of Russia and Belarus, who were excluded from the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm last year due to the war in Ukraine. A Swedish member of the European Parliament described the decision as “completely inappropriate.”
The Foundation said in its statement on Saturday, “The Nobel Foundation’s decision to invite all ambassadors to attend the Nobel Prize distribution ceremony, in accordance with previous practice, sparked strong reactions,” adding that the basis of the decision is the belief that “it is important and right to communicate as widely as possible the values and messages that Symbolized by the Nobel Prize.
“For example, through the clear political message last year with the Peace Prize awarded to human rights fighters from Russia and Belarus as well as to Ukrainians working to document Russian war crimes,” she added.
“We are aware of the strong reactions in Sweden, which have completely overshadowed this message. “We are therefore choosing to repeat last year’s exception to usual practice, namely not inviting the ambassadors of Russia, Belarus and Iran to the Nobel Prize award ceremony in Stockholm,” the foundation said.
The Swedish Prime Minister and Ukrainian officials welcomed the move on Saturday.
“I welcome the new decision of the Nobel Foundation Board of Directors regarding the Nobel Prize award ceremony in Stockholm,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, while Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said: “I welcome the new decision of the Nobel Foundation Board of Directors regarding the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm.” Foreign Affairs magazine described the reversal as “restoring justice” in a Facebook post.
The Nobel Banquet is held annually in Stockholm on December 10, when five out of six Nobel Prizes are awarded. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway.
Russians and Belarusians have been left out of countless events since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which Minsk heavily aided, in February 2022.
Athletes from Russia and Belarus have also been banned from competing in many sporting events, and diplomats are regularly excluded from summits.
In another development, on Saturday, the head of the Nobel Prize Committee, Berrit Reiss-Andersen, accused Russia of “trying to silence” Nobel Peace Prize-winning journalist Dmitry Muratov, after Russia added Muratov to the register of “foreign agents” on Friday.
Under a law expanded in December 2022, Russia requires all individuals or organizations that receive funding or support from abroad to be classified as “foreign agents.”
“Mr. Dmitry Muratov has been awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to promote freedom of expression, freedom of information and independent journalism. It is sad that the Russian authorities are now trying to silence him,” Rhys Andersen said, adding that “the accusations against him are politically motivated.”
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