Nobel Foundation reverses invitations to Russia, Iran after backlash

The decision to invite representatives from Russia and Iran to awards ceremony was criticised over Ukraine war and human rights violations.

Ukrainian soldiers
Moscow was not invited last year because of its invasion of Ukraine. [File: Viacheslav Ratynsky/Reuters]

The Nobel Foundation has reversed its invitations for representatives of Russia, Belarus and Iran to attend this year’s Nobel Prize awards ceremony in Stockholm after the decision announced a day earlier “provoked strong reactions”.

Several Swedish lawmakers said on Friday that they would boycott this year’s event after the private foundation that administers the prestigious awards changed its position from a year earlier and invited representatives of the three countries to attend.

“The decision by the Nobel Foundation to invite all ambassadors to the Nobel Prize award ceremony, in accordance with previous practice, has provoked strong reactions,” the foundation said on Saturday in a press release.

“The basis for the decision is that we believe that it is important and right to reach out as widely as possible with the values and messages that the Nobel Prize stands for. ”

Some of the protesting lawmakers cited Russia’s war on Ukraine and the crackdown on human rights in Iran as reasons for their boycott. Moscow was not invited last year because of its invasion of Ukraine.

Belarusian opposition figure Sviatlana 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”.

Lukashenko is accused of launching a crackdown on opposition figures and critics after his disputed victory in the 2020 presidential election.

Last year, the Norwegian Nobel Institute still invited all ambassadors to the Peace Prize ceremony it organises in Oslo, and the foundation said this would be the case again this year.

“As before, all ambassadors will be invited to the ceremony in Oslo,” it noted.

The remaining Nobel Prizes – for chemistry, economics, literature, medicine and physics – are presented in Stockholm.

‘Victory for humanism’

Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Oleg Nikolenko called the reversal a “victory for humanism”.

“We thank everyone who demanded the restoration of justice. We are convinced that a similar decision should be made regarding the Russian and Belarusian ambassadors to Oslo,” he said in a post on Facebook.

Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson also welcomed the new decision.

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

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

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies