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Russia's President Vladimir Putin (C) chairs a government meeting in his Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow on March 5, 2014. Western and Russian leaders headed today into a day of diplomatic wrangling over the Ukraine crisis, a day after US President Barack Obama warned Moscow was not "fooling anybody" over its role in Crimea.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a government meeting in his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on March 5, 2014.

PHOTOGRAPH BY ALEXEY DRUZHININ, AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Dan Stone

National Geographic

Published March 7, 2014

The Nobel Prize committee is meeting this month to consider the candidates for the peace prize—including Vladimir Putin.

Putin, who ordered 16,000 Russian soldiers to invade Ukraine in late February, is a nominee for the prize that has previously been awarded to Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, and Mother Theresa.

The unlikely nomination raises questions: How does someone get nominated for a peace prize? Who put forth Putin's name—and why? And could he actually win?

Nobel Nominations 101

Nominees for some prizes, including science, medicine, and economics, are solicited from professional and academic organizations. The peace prize, however, will accept any nomination from a "qualified nominator." That could be a member of a national government, a professor of social science, or a director of a policy institute. One caveat: You can't nominate yourself.

Putin's Nomination

In the case of Putin, the nomination came from the International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation of Peoples of the World, a Russian advocacy group that broadly pursues peace. Putin was nominated in recognition of his efforts in brokering a nonmilitary solution to punish the Syrian government for using chemical weapons.

The group's argument was basically that Barack Obama won the peace prize in 2009 and yet was threatening to attack Syria in 2013, while Putin prevented military action by negotiating a peaceful solution that required Syria to voluntarily surrender its weapons. Putin's success stemmed from his close relationship with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom Putin personally persuaded to give up the weapons to avoid international attack. Obama backed down from his threat after Assad agreed to certain deadlines for surrendering his stockpile of chemical weapons.

The committee is meeting this month in Norway to consider a record 278 nominees. Although the full list of names will not be made public for 50 years, Putin's name became public knowledge because the nominating group released its letter of recommendation.

Over the next few months, the Nobel committee will cut its list to 40 nominees, then 25, and eventually 10 or so. No one outside of the committee will know how long Putin remains in the running, but several former Nobel laureates have already signaled he may not be deserving. Last fall, 11 former Nobel Prize winners asked Putin to drop charges of piracy against a group of Greenpeace activists (he didn't respond). Even if Putin had not invaded Ukraine, the committee still might not have considered him a real contender, since Syria is behind schedule in turning over its weapons.

After the short list is agreed upon, the committee works to come up with what is traditionally a unanimous choice. Also rumored as nominees this year are Pope Francis and Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani who was attacked for her advocacy of education for young girls. And Putin may not be the only controversial nominee. NSA leaker Edward Snowden is rumored to be in the mix as well.

21 comments
Tony Canta
Tony Canta

Putin is the epitome of stupidity.

Alex Deckard
Alex Deckard

Putin and Pope Francis? I didn't realize the Nobel prizes were turning into a bad joke...

If anyone deserves it, it's Malala Yousafzai. 

And moving troops farther than where you're allowed to (which is what he did) is an invasion. The fact that people support him on account of what other leaders did in the past is akin to saying: "hey, if he did it, why can't I?".  

And the referendum came out 95.5% in favor of Russia? Lol SERIOULSY? When at least 12% are MINORITIES (tatars) that are AFRAID of Russia because they have been ethnically cleansed in the past BY RUSSIANS.

This is a bad joke......just like Kim Jong-un being elected 100 %.

Abra Han
Abra Han

I celebrate Russin's President Vladimir Putin for winning a noble prize peace

Yamba K.
Yamba K.

I see no reason why Putin should be disqualified, because Obama won the award when his troops were dropping drone bombs in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  

William Molloy
William Molloy

Can we recommend that they take it away from Barack Obama.

He has totally discredited the award.

Can't remember the last time it was given to a war criminal.

Lyndon Shepherd
Lyndon Shepherd

I never want to hear the western propaganda quote "russia invaded ukraine" again. Do some research. It was far from invasion.

Jamison Hill
Jamison Hill

Whatever, if Obama got the prize for doing absolutely nothing other getting elected.  Then Putin should get the prize for the destruction of the Syrian chemical arsenal and his give peace a chance NYT oped.  The Nobel Prize is a farce now anyways, ever since Al Gore got one.

Craig Schnabel
Craig Schnabel

He should be disqualified in the first round due to his stance on LGBT rights and the tactics used to quell protests, enforce barbaric laws, and the blatant disregard for their safety in the climate created therein.

Richard Holland
Richard Holland

This is one of the reasons why the Noble peace prize is not such a big deal anymore - like the U.N. remember them? 

Constantinos Michaelides
Constantinos Michaelides

Putin did not invaded Ukraine. Turkey invaded Cyprus but nobody cares.

When America goes to IRAK, Agfanistan, Yougoslavia, Grenata, Panama, Somalia e.t.c is a peace mission and when Russian Citizens take over Crimea which by the way is Russian soil is Invasion. If you are so sensitive then demand the Turkish troop out of Cyprus, the Israelies out of Palestine and then you will have the right to talk for invasion.

Rosalind Walton
Rosalind Walton

He was nominated by a Russian advocacy group because of his efforts to broker a nonmilitary solution to the Syrian chemical weapons crisis.

Bruno Dias
Bruno Dias

 @Constantinos Michaelides Moving troops, without permission, to a foreign country, occupying key regions, is considered an invasion. By the way, you should check your facts about Crimea. Russia invaded Crimea many years ago, expelled the majority of crimea natives and replaced them with russians. :)

Oh, and you are right about USA and Turky. But that doesn't mask the russian invasion.

Lyndon Shepherd
Lyndon Shepherd

He did have permission, the soil isnt foreign, the area is crucial because it serves as huge military defense for russia. Not an invasion, but you can listen to your lovely john kerry and believe the man who took all you americans to war for those weapons of mass destruction...find any yet??

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