A Russian advocacy group announced Tuesday that it had recommended President Vladmir Putin be nominated for the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, despite allegations against Moscow of human rights violations and its staunch backing of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
At a news conference, members of the International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation of Peoples of the World said Putin was more deserving of the award than US President Barack Obama, who won the award in 2009, the New York Times reported.
“Barack Obama has the title of Nobel Prize winner — the man who initiated and approved such aggressive actions on the part of the United States of America as in Iraq, Afghanistan, some others, and now is preparing for invasion of Syria,” Iosif Kobzon, a popular Russian singer and a member of parliament, said at the news conference. “I think our president, who is trying to stop the bloodshed, who is trying to help to resolve this conflict situation through a political dialogue, through diplomatic language, deserves this title more.”
The group sent the letter September 16 and it was received by the Norwegian committee responsible for bestowing the prize on September 20, the group’s leader Georgy Trapeznikov said, according to the AFP news agency. However, Putin will not be eligible for nomination until 2014 because recommendations for this year’s prize had to be postmarked by February 1.
The Russian group was not the first to lobby the Nobel Peace Prize Committee to consider Putin for the prize.
“Vladimir Putin has proved his adherence to the cause of peace,” Sergei Komkov, president of the Russian Foundation for Education, wrote in a September letter, according to HuffPost UK. “As the head of one of the leading countries of the world, he has made every effort to maintain peace and tranquility in his own state and has actively contributed to peaceful settlement of any conflicts arising on the planet.”
It’s not just Russians advocating for Putin’s consideration, however. After Russia pitched the proposal for Syria to give up its chemical weapons, a number of conservative American outlets voiced a similar message.
“The world knows that Vladimir Putin is the one who really deserves that Nobel Peace Prize,” Fox News national security analyst K.T. McFarland wrote.
“Russian President Putin Deserves Nobel Peace Prize,” according to Michael Collins Piper of the American Free Press weekly.
A website called “We The People” even started a petition to have President Obama give his Nobel Prize to Putin.
Critics of Putin, however, may point out that he has steadfastly continued to support and supply arms to the Assad regime during its ongoing bloody war against rebels, and has vetoed a number of UN Security Council resolutions that might have helped stem the violence and prevent the deaths of tens of thousands in Syria.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also compared the human rights situation in Russia under Putin to that of the Soviet Union.