Nobel Prize foundation invites Russia, Belarus back to Stockholm ceremony


Ambassadors of Russia and its ally Belarus will be invited back to the Nobel Prize ceremonies, a decision that has drawn criticism from Kyiv after the two countries were left out last year because of the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine.

The Nobel Foundation said ambassadors from all countries that are diplomatically represented in Sweden and Norway will be invited to the award ceremonies this year. Ceremonies are held in Stockholm and Oslo.

“The achievements recognized by the Nobel Prize require openness, exchange and dialogue between people and nations,” the foundation said in a statement, adding that it “would like to reach out with this message to everyone, even to those who do not share the values of the Nobel Prize.”

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko responded Friday, calling on the Nobel Foundation “to support international efforts to isolate Russia and Belarus.” The “decision to return to business as usual” would only bolster a “feeling of impunity” in the Kremlin, he added.

“Most likely, on the day when the Russian ambassador sits in a nice suit in the Stockholm concert hall, the Russian army will commit another war crime on the occupied Ukrainian territories,” he wrote.

Five of the six Nobel Prizes are awarded in ceremonies in Stockholm each year, while the Nobel Peace Prize is handed out in Oslo. The private foundation that runs the awards typically invites ambassadors to the ceremony that takes place on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the industrialist Alfred Nobel’s death.

Rights defenders in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus win Nobel

The Nobel Foundation barred representatives of Moscow and Minsk last year, saying it would “follow the Swedish and European diplomatic policy of not inviting Russia and Belarus because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

In a reversal this year, Vidar Helgesen, the executive director of the Nobel Foundation, said it was “clear that the world is increasingly divided into spheres, where dialogue between those with differing views is being reduced.”

“To counter this tendency, we are now broadening our invitations to celebrate and understand the Nobel Prize and the importance of free science, free culture and free, peaceful societies,” he added.

Critics of the move noted that a Belarusian court in recent months sentenced the jailed human rights activist Ales Bialiatski, one of last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners, to 10 years in prison.

Belarus sentences Nobel Peace laureate Ales Bialiatski to 10 years in jail

Bialiatski shared the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize with Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties, which works to document alleged war crimes by Russia, and the Russian human rights group Memorial.

The Nobel Foundation’s press office said in an email Friday that the laureates would be announced and the invitations sent in October. It said the tradition is to invite all ambassadors to the award ceremony, whereas only ambassadors of countries that have laureates that year attend the banquet.

The foundation’s statement comes on the heels of an announcement from the International Olympic Committee that Russia and Belarus would not receive formal invitations to the 2024 Games in Paris, although athletes from the two countries may be able to compete as independents.

IOC says it will not invite Russia or Belarus to the Paris Olympics

It was not immediately clear whether the Nobel Foundation’s invitation of all ambassadors also meant that a representative of Iran, which was left out last year, could attend the ceremony in December.

Tehran said in July that despite appointing a new ambassador to Sweden, it would refrain from sending the diplomat to take up the post, in protest over the burning of a Quran outside a Stockholm mosque amid a string of incidents desecrating Islam’s most holy book.

Along with Russia and Belarus, the Nobel Foundation had excluded Tehran from the 2022 ceremony because of what it described as “a serious and escalating situation” in the country during a crackdown on months of protests in Iran against grievances including gender discrimination and economic neglect.

Serhiy Morgunov contributed to this report.


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