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Peace Institute Says Nobel Rankings Favor Sharp, Echo of Moscow

U.S. Professor Gene Sharp, a theorist on non-violent struggle, and the Echo of Moscow radio station are the main contenders for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the International Peace Research Institute said.

The radio station’s chief editor, Alexei Venediktov, and Russian human rights group Memorial and Svetlana Gannushkina are, together with Sharp, this year’s top picks, Kristian Berg Harpviken, head of the Oslo-based institute which ranks potential winners, said yesterday in an interview. While Sharp is the favorite, Harpviken said his decision to include candidates from Russia had been “an active choice” after Vladimir Putin returned as president there.

“Russia has had both a political tightening since Putin reclaimed the number-one post, and a continuously intensifying civil society protest that has probably surprised a lot of people,” Harpviken said by phone. “A look toward Russia this year will be a very natural thing for the Nobel Committee.”

Putin has cracked down on opposition and non-governmental groups amid the biggest protests since he first came to power in 2000. Tens of thousands of people took part in demonstrations late last year against alleged electoral fraud.

The Prio institute’s five-candidate list also included Myanmar’s president Thein Sein for initiating a political reconciliation process in his country, and Nigeria’s religious leaders John Onaiyekan and Mohamed Sa’ad Abubakar, for their efforts to promote interreligious dialogue.

The prize winner will be announced on Oct. 12. The institute doesn’t help pick the winners.

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