Russia joins boycott of Nobel award to Liu

Nov. 19, 2010 at 8:24 AM

OSLO, Norway, Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Russia will join China in boycotting December's Oslo, Norway, Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, officials said.

China has been pressuring countries not to attend the ceremony and barred Liu, 54, and family members from traveling to accept the award, The Daily Telegraph reported.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee indicated it may cancel the Dec. 10 ceremony.

Under the Norwegian Nobel Committee rules, the medal and $1.4 million prize can only be awarded to the winner or a close family member. Liu's wife, Liu Xia, is under house arrest and his brothers have been barred from flying, The Daily Telegraph said. In addition, Liu's supporters reportedly have been detained and had their telephone and Internet connections blocked.

Nobel Institute Director Geir Lundestad said no other relatives have announced plans to travel to Oslo for the ceremony.

"The way it looks now, it is not likely that someone from his close family will attend," he said. "Then we will not give out the medal and the diploma during the ceremony."

As of Friday, 36 ambassadors accepted the invitation. Sixteen had not replied and six declined, Lundestad said.

Diplomats had until Nov. 15 to respond. However, after receiving letters from Beijing warning of "consequences" for countries supporting Liu, several embassies asked for more time to decide whether to attend the ceremony, the British newspaper said.

"I don't know of any example where a country has so actively and directly tried to have ambassadors stay away from a Nobel ceremony," Lundestad said.

Liu, the leading democracy activist in China, is the first person from China to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The award infuriated Chinese officials.

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