Representatives of Russia, Belarus, and Iran will not be invited to attend this year’s Nobel Prize award ceremonies. This after The Nobel Foundation withdrew its invitation on Sept. 2, following “strong reactions” from several Swedish lawmakers.
The lawmakers pressured the Foundation a day earlier under threat of boycott, to retract its previous decision to allow the countries to attend. The Foundation had initially changed its position from a year earlier, saying the countries’ attendance “promotes opportunities to convey the important messages of the Nobel Prize to everyone.”
According to some of the lawmakers, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, as well as the continued suppression of human rights in Iran, serve as reasons for the boycott.
In addition, Belarusian opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya welcomed the Nobel Foundation’s decision, after she called on both the Swedish Nobel Foundation and the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Sept. 1 to refrain from inviting representatives, of what she called Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s “illegitimate regime,” to any associated events.
Ms. Tsikhanouskaya referred to the decision as “a clear sign of solidarity with the Belarusian and Ukrainian peoples.”
“This is how you show your commitment to the principles and values of Nobel,” Ms. Tsikhanouskaya said.
This was echoed by Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko, who called it a “victory for humanism.”
“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 reportedly wrote on Facebook.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson also concurred with the Foundation’s decision, after saying last week he would have not allowed the three countries to attend the ceremonies. According to a social media post, Mr. Kristersson reportedly described the reactions as a sign of solidarity with the Ukrainian people and as a testament of opposition against the Russian invasion.
The Nobel Foundation subsequently confirmed on Sept. 2 that Sweden’s assertive stance against the representatives’ attendance served as a valid reason to not invite them to the awards in Stockholm.
“We recognize the strong reactions in Sweden. The board of the Nobel Foundation, therefore, choose to repeat last year’s exception to regular practice—that is, to not invite the ambassadors of Russia, Belarus, and Iran,” according to a statement by the Foundation, Bloomberg reported.
Nonetheless, according to the Norwegian Nobel Committee that awards the Nobel Peace Prize, all ambassadors will still be invited to a separate ceremony in the Norwegian capital of Oslo, in accordance with what the Committee calls standard practice.
“The Committee wishes the government authorities in every country officially represented in Norway to have the opportunity to take part in the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony and to familiarize themselves with the Nobel Peace Prize laureates’ important message,” according to a statement by the Committee to the Associated Press.
“This applies not least to countries with an authoritarian regime which wage war against other countries or against their own population, and which our Peace Prize laureates oppose,” the statement continues.
Swedish politicians lauded the Foundation’s decision, which also prompted a response by Sweden’s Royal House. Margareta Thorgren, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Royal House reportedly told local media that the change in decision is viewed positively, adding that Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf intended to hand out this year’s Nobel awards at ceremonies in Stockholm “as before.”
The winners of this year’s Sciences and Literatures Nobel prize winners will be announced early next month, followed by an invitation to receive their awards at ceremonies on Dec. 10, which also marks the anniversary of the death of award founder Alfred Nobel in 1896.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.