Ukraine war: Nobel Prize invitation to Russia and Iran withdrawn

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Sweden’s king hands out awards at the Stockholm ceremony in 2022
By Paulin Kola
BBC News

The Nobel Foundation has reversed a much-criticised decision to invite Russia, Belarus and Iran to this year’s awards ceremony in Stockholm.

“We recognise the strong reaction in Sweden,” the foundation said.

Russia and its ally Belarus were not invited last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while Iran was left out over its human rights record.

Ukraine had criticised this year’s decision and hailed Saturday’s U-turn as “a victory for humanism”.

The awards ceremony is held in Stockholm on 10 December – the anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the man who established the fund.

There, the king of Sweden honours laureates in medicine, physics, literature, and economics. The Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is held on the same day in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

In its announcement on Saturday, the Nobel Foundation defended its earlier decision, saying “it is important and right to reach out as widely as possible with the values and messages that the Nobel Prize stands for – for example, through last year’s clear political message with the peace prize awarded to human rights fighters from Russia and Belarus as well as to Ukrainians who work with documenting Russian war crimes”.

But it acknowledged that the reaction had “overshadowed this message”.

People work during the response effort to a Russian rocket attack in Zaporizhzhia, south eastern Ukraine, in January

“We, therefore, choose to repeat last year’s exception to regular practice – that is, to not invite the ambassadors of Russia, Belarus and Iran to the Nobel Prize award ceremony in Stockholm. As before, all ambassadors will be invited to the ceremony in Oslo,” the foundation said.

Saturday’s announcement does not address another part of the earlier message that has caused additional concern in Sweden.

It centres on the invitation to “all parties that have parliamentary representation in Sweden through democratic elections”.

This includes the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats – a party founded by Nazi sympathisers, who had been shunned by the mainstream for decades.

It won around a fifth of votes in last year’s general election.

Its leader, Jimmie Akesson, has said he will not attend after being invited for the first time.

“Unfortunately I’m busy that day,” he wrote on Facebook on Thursday.

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8 October 2021
10 December 2022