Outcry over the invitation of the Russian and Belarusian ambassadors to the Nobel ceremony

The Nobel Foundation Gala Dinner, December 10, 2022 in Stockholm, Sweden (Jonathan NACKSTRAND)

The Nobel Foundation Gala Dinner, December 10, 2022 in Stockholm, Sweden (Jonathan NACKSTRAND)

Contrary to “Alfred Nobel values”: the invitation of the Russian and Belarusian ambassadors to the next Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm has aroused widespread disapproval, from the Swedish Prime Minister to Kiev.

The Nobel Foundation, which organizes the award ceremony and a grand gala dinner in the Swedish capital, announced Thursday that it would invite all the ambassadors of the countries present in Sweden to the ceremony this year, to promote dialogue in favor of the peace.

Last year, she had decided not to invite the two ambassadors because of the war in Ukraine, as well as the Iranian ambassador because of the repression of the protest movement. All three are invited this year.

“As long as millions of Ukrainians continue to suffer from a war they did not cause and Russian power is not punished for its crimes, we call on the Nobel Committee to support efforts to isolate Russia and Belarus,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Facebook.

For him, this invitation will arouse “an increased feeling of impunity” of Russian power.

Belarusian opposition leader in exile Svetlana Tikhanovkaya has called on the Nobel Foundation to back down. Led with an iron fist by Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, Belarus is a close ally of Moscow.

“No compromise should be made with the values ​​of Alfred Nobel. I call on the Foundation and the Nobel Committee not to invite representatives of the illegitimate Lukashenko regime to events and to demand the immediate release” of Ales Bialiatski, Nobel Peace Prize 2022, she believes on X (ex-Twitter).

In Sweden, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said he was “very surprised” by these invitations.

“I wouldn’t have done it if I had to take care of the invitations to an award ceremony and I understand that it bothers Sweden and Ukraine,” he added in a statement to AFP.

For the Nobel Foundation, “it is clear that the world is more and more divided into spheres and that the dialogue between divergent points of view is more and more reduced”, for its part declared Vidar Helgesen, its director, in a communicated.

“To reverse this trend, we are expanding our invitation to celebrate and understand the Nobel Prize and the importance of free science, free culture and free and peaceful societies,” he added.

– Boycott –

Several Swedish politicians, including Green, Center and Left leaders, said they would boycott the event because of the Russian ambassador’s invitation.

The ceremony takes place every year in Stockholm on December 10, the day when the winners of the prizes in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and economics receive their prizes from the hands of King Carl XVI Gustaf, followed by a gala dinner bringing together some 1,200 guests.

A separate ceremony is organized in Oslo on the same day for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, to which all ambassadors serving in Norway without exception are invited.

“It is a good thing that all the diplomatic representatives present in Oslo can hear the message carried by the laureate and by the Nobel committee, in particular the representatives of authoritarian states which repress their people or make war”, declared to AFP the secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

“It is more uncomfortable for them to be there and hear these messages than not to come to the ceremony or to be excluded from it,” added Olav Njølstad.

Last year, although invited, the ambassadors of Russia and Belarus shunned the ceremony in Oslo consecrating Mr. Bialiatski as well as two organizations for the defense of civil liberties in Russia and Ukraine.


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