Putin humiliated as Russia’s Nobel Prize ceremony invitation is revoked

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Vladimir Putin has been publicly humiliated after the bizarre decision to invite representatives of Russia, Belarus and Iran to attend this year’s Nobel Prize award ceremonies was reversed following an international outcry.

Nobel Foundation was forced into an embarrassing climbdown after what Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, who welcomed the decision, called “many and strong reactions” to the initial announcement a day earlier.

Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who fiercely criticised the decision to extend the invitations, also praised the foundation for changing its mind – albeit belatedly.

Several prominent Swedish politicians previously threatened to boycott this year’s Nobel Prize award ceremonies in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, after the private foundation which administers the prestigious awards changed its position from a year earlier and invited representatives of the three countries to attend, saying it “promotes opportunities to convey the important messages of the Nobel Prize to everyone”.

Some cited Russia’s war on Ukraine and the crackdown on human rights in Iran as reasons for their boycott.

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Posting on X, formerly Twitter, on Friday, Ms Tsikhanouskaya on Friday called on the Swedish Nobel Foundation and the Norwegian Nobel Committee not to invite representatives of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s “illegitimate regime to any events.”

The following day, after the foundation confirmed its rethink, she added: “I welcome the Nobel Foundation’s decision to cancel its invitation to associates of Lukashenko’s illegitimate regime.

“It’s a sign of solidarity & support for our people. Democratic Belarus should be invited instead.

“I trust the Nobel Committee will follow this example.”

She subsequently said it was a “a clear sign of solidarity with the Belarusian and Ukrainian peoples”, adding: “This is how you show your commitment to the principles and values of Nobel.”

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko called the decision a “victory for humanism.”

He wrote on Facebook: “Thank you to everyone who demanded that justice be restored.”

“A similar decision” should be made regarding the attendance of Russian and Belarusian ambassadors at celebrations taking place in Norway following the ceremony in Sweden, Mr Nikolenko added.

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Mr Kristersson, who said Friday he would not have allowed the three countries to participate in the award ceremonies regardless, was also happy with the decision.

Also posting on X, he said: “The many and strong reactions show that the whole of Sweden unambiguously stand on Ukraine’s side against Russia’s appalling war of aggression.”

The foundation said Saturday it recognised “the strong reactions in Sweden, which completely overshadowed this message” and therefore it had decided not to invite the ambassadors of Russia, Belarus and Iran to the award ceremony in Stockholm.

However, it said that it would follow its usual practice and invite all ambassadors to the ceremony in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded.

Saturday’s announcement was widely praised in Sweden by politicians.

Even the Swedish Royal House reacted with spokeswoman Margareta Thorgren saying, as quoted by newspaper Aftonbladet, that “we see the change in the decision as positive”.

She added that King Carl XVI Gustaf was planning to hand out this year’s Nobel awards at ceremonies in Stockholm “as before.”

This year’s Nobel prize winners will be announced in early October. The laureates are then invited to receive their awards at glittering prize ceremonies on December 10, the anniversary of award founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896.

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