Russia, Belarus barred from Nobel Prize ceremony after outcry forces U-turn

The Nobel Foundation reversed its decision to invite ambassadors from authoritarian states involved in the war in Ukraine to its annual awards ceremony following condemnation from Kyiv and other European capitals.

In a statement on Saturday, the Swedish trust acknowledged that its policy to invite ambassadors from all countries “in accordance with previous practice” had “provoked strong reactions.”

In the face of growing condemnation, including from the government of Sweden, the organizers will “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.” However, it added, their invitation to a parallel ceremony in Oslo still stands.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said this week that he was “greatly surprised” to see Moscow’s envoy invited to the awards, and that he would not have made the same decision. Representatives of Sweden’s major political parties announced they would boycott the event.

Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s foreign ministry, 090077030/posts/pfbid02RkZS6bjCmNQufz9Uqefg1bA9qazNy2AXR9CHhTqMRsJU3rCPN3k4zkSKGEwdcxhSl/" target="_blank">warned the initial decision would embolden Russia and bolster the Kremlin’s “sense of impunity.”

Belarus has declared support for Russia’s war on Ukraine, offering up its territory as a launchpad for attacks, while Iran has supplied drones to Moscow to replenish its depleted military arsenal.

On Friday, Russia’s Ministry of Justice declared 2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dmitry Muratov a “foreign agent” as part of its ongoing crackdown on the free press and civil society. The prominent journalist and former editor of banned liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta had previously been praised by the Kremlin prior to the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Dozens of European politicians and MEPs last year signed an open letter calling on the Nobel Foundation to consider Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for a Nobel Peace Prize in the wake of Russia’s aggression.