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Which Swedish party leaders are boycotting Nobel ceremony over Russian ambassador?

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Which Swedish party leaders are boycotting Nobel ceremony over Russian ambassador?
File photo of the Nobel Prize ceremony in 2016. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Several Swedish party leaders said they would not attend the Nobel Prize celebrations this year, after the Russian ambassador was invited.

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Updated following a clarification from the Nobel Foundation that the invitation applies to the prize ceremony, not the banquet.

Centre Party leader Muharrem Demirok, Left Party leader Nooshi Dadgostar and Green Party leader Märta Stenevi said they would boycott one of the glitziest affairs in the Swedish calendar, disagreeing with the Nobel Foundation's decision to invite the Russian ambassador to the prize ceremony.

"I can't attend an event where a representative of the Russian regime is present. They are currently waging a bloody war of aggression, a terror war on Ukraine. Every day we're seeing pictures of hospitals and preschools that have been bombed to pieces," said Demirok.

Far-right Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson, who was invited to the event for the first time this year, earlier in the day said he would not attend because he would be "busy" on the day. He too criticised the decision to invite the ambassadors for Russia, Belarus and Iran.

"The Nobel Foundation of course decides who they want to invite. But like many others, I was greatly surprised that Russia was being invited," Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said in a written statement to AFP.

"I would not have done it if I were handling invites to an award ceremony and I understand that it upsets many people in both Sweden and Ukraine," Kristersson added, although he didn't confirm whether or not he would attend.

Christian Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Ebba Busch told TT she still planned to attend the festivities, adding that the guest list was up to the Nobel Foundation.

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Liberal leader Johan Pehrson said the invitation was an example of "lack of judgement", but didn't immediately comment on whether or not he would attend.

Social Democrat leader Magdalena Andersson's press secretary told public broadcaster SVT that Andersson had not yet received an invitation, but didn't elaborate on what her answer to an invitation might be.

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On Thursday, the Nobel Foundation – which organises the annual Nobel prize ceremony and banquet in Stockholm – said it would extend an invitation to all ambassadors of countries which have representation in Sweden or Norway.

In 2022, the Foundation decided not to invite the Russian and Belarusian ambassadors over the war in Ukraine, and the Iranian envoy over the country's crackdown on a wave of protests.

"It is clear that the world is increasingly divided into spheres, where dialogue between those with differing views is being reduced," Vidar Helgesen, the executive director of the Nobel Foundation, said in a statement.

"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."

The glitzy bash is held each year in Stockholm on December 10th when laureates in the fields of medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and economics receive their awards from King Carl XVI Gustaf, followed by a gala banquet for around 1,200 guests.

A separate ceremony is held in Oslo on the same day for the Peace Prize laureate.

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