The Nobel Foundation has backed away from a controversial decision to invite ambassadors from Russia, Belarus and Iran to the Nobel Prize 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 they wanted to include those who did not share the values of the Nobel Prize.
Ukraine has condemned the decision to invite Russian and Belarusian diplomats who were absent from last year’s Stockholm Nobel Prize ceremony because of the war in Ukraine. A Swedish member of the European Parliament called the decision “highly inappropriate”.
“The Nobel Foundation’s decision to invite all ambassadors to the Nobel Prize ceremony, in accordance with previous practice, has provoked strong reactions,” the foundation said in its statement on Saturday, adding that the decision was based on “the importance and rightness of making the values and messages that the Nobel Prize represents as widely accessible as possible.”
“For example, Russia and Belarus awarded a peace prize last year with a clear political message to human rights activists and Ukrainians working to document Russian war crimes,” it said.
“We recognize the strong reactions in Sweden, which completely covered up this news. Therefore, we choose to repeat last year’s exception to the usual practice – namely, not to invite the ambassadors of Russia, Belarus and Iran to the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm,” the foundation said.
Sweden’s prime minister and Ukrainian officials welcomed the move on Saturday.
“I welcome the new decision of the board of the Nobel Foundation regarding the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristerson said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, while Ukrainian ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said. Foreign Affairs called the reversal “a reversal of justice” in a Facebook post.
The Nobel Banquet is held annually on December 10 in Stockholm, where five of the six Nobel Prizes are awarded. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway.
Russians and Belarusians have been excluded from countless events since Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, largely aided by Minsk.
Athletes from Russia and Belarus are also banned from many sporting events, and diplomats are routinely excluded from summits.
In another development, Nobel committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen on Saturday accused Russia of “trying to silence” Nobel Peace Prize-winning journalist Dmitry Muratov, after Russia added Muratov to its “foreign agents” register on Friday.
Under the law, which was expanded in December 2022, all individuals or organizations that receive funding or support from abroad must be classified as “foreign agents.”
“Mr. Dmitry Muratov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 for his efforts to promote freedom of speech and information and a free press. It is sad that the Russian authorities are now trying to silence him,” Reiss-Anderson said, adding that “the charges against him are politically motivated.”
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