Putin for Peace Prize?

Sometimes there are days when I open my copy of The New York Times (shout out to Student Senate for the free copies) and there’s a headline that immediately grabs my attention. This week that headline was “Citing Efforts to Prevent Attack on Syria, Group Nominates Putin for Peace Prize”. Excuse me? Did I just read that correctly? My first reaction was to laugh, which I did, and very loudly I might add. How was Putin, the president of Russia, being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize? This has to be a joke. But no, as I read further I found that this in fact not a joke.

Putin had been nominated (approximately six months after the nomination deadline I might add) by a group in Russia called the International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation of Peoples of the World, for his role in “promoting peace” in the civil war in Syria. Here are some reasons for my surprise:

First, Putin has not done anything considerable towards the peace process in Syria aside from jumping at the opportunity to make the United States look bad by changing pace and suggesting that Syria hand over all chemical weapons stockpiles to Russia. Although this was indeed helpful, it needs to be seen in the context of the previous Russian stance on the conflict. This stance included continuously blocking any action against the Assad government via the Security Council and for a long time voicing skepticism as to the extent to which the Assad government was to blame for the violence.

Second, let’s not forget the state of Russia under Putin. Yes, Russia has become a powerhouse in the international community, but domestically it is still plagued with corruption and political intrigue reminiscent of its years during the Cold War.

Finally, the most recent controversy to come out of Russia is worth noting, the discrimination against gay people. And I’m not talking about the right to marry or adopt children. I’m talking about the laws in Russia that have made it ILLEGAL to be gay. I’m talking about the blatant discrimination and violence against gay people in Russia which the government is doing nothing to address, and to some extent is even encouraging through its refusal to address the situation.

My main point still stands, why on Earth has Putin been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize? Ask anyone you like if they’ve heard about the nomination and just wait for their reaction. I’m willing to bet the majority of people will respond with one word “WHAT”. That in itself sums up the situation.