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Opinion
Therese Raphael

On Putin's Birthday, the Nobel Peace Prize Honors His Enemies

The Nobel Committee made a wise choice in reminding the world that you can’t have peace without accountability.

Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, speaks during a press conference to announce the winner of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.

Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, speaks during a press conference to announce the winner of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize.

Photographer: HEIKO JUNGE/AFP

We can’t know what was said in those secret deliberations, but the Nobel Committee must have thought about giving Volodymyr Zelenskiy the Peace prize. That would have been a popular choice — he easily topped the 2022 Time magazine reader poll for the most influential person of the year. 

They were right instead to honor Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian civil and human rights activists. The prize is “not against anyone,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chairwoman of the Nobel committee. And yet, on Vladimir Putin’s 70th birthday, it is clearly a repudiation of everything he stands for and an eloquent defense of the importance of both civil society and memory in building peace.