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DEMOCRACY
Belarus, Russian activists and EU Nobel Peace favorites: TV
by Staff Writers
Oslo (AFP) Oct 11, 2012


Jailed Belarussian activist Ales Belyatsky, veteran Russian activist Lyudmila Alekseeva, Mexican Bishop Raul Vera Lopez and the European Union are the top contenders for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, public broadcaster NRK reported Thursday.

Commercial broadcaster TV2 meanwhile deemed the best bets ahead of Friday's announcement were American political scientist and prominent theorist of non-violent struggle Gene Sharp, Russian human rights group Memorial and one of its key figures, Svetlana Gannushkina, and ... the EU, the only pick the two channels had in common.

A day ahead of the widely anticipated announcement, NRK also said it had reason to believe there would be only one laureate this year, after last year's prize was split between Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, compatriot "peace warrior" Leymah Gbowee and Yemen's Arab Spring activist Tawakkul Karman.

"Maybe (Nobel Committee president) Thorbjoern Jagland and the Nobel Committee want us to look to the East," reported the often well-informed NRK.

The prize could, according to NRK, in that case go to Belyatsky, the head of Belarussian human rights group Vyasna (Spring) who has been jailed after what the EU decried as a "political trial".

Alekseeva, 85, who has spent the past half-century defending the same rights in the Soviet Union and in Russia, was also a top contender from the East, the broadcaster said.

It meanwhile also pointed out that a Nobel Peace Prize had not gone to Latin America in two decades, hinting the prize this year could go to Bishop Lopez, who has defended the most vulnerable in a Mexico caught in a bloody struggle between drug cartels and the military.

More surprisingly, perhaps, given the current eurozone crisis, NRK suggested this year's prize might go to the EU, of which Nobel Peace Prize host country Norway has rejected membership twice, in 1972 and 1994.

"The European Union is in the middle of one of its worst crises, but perhaps it is precisely now the peace and stabilisation project deserves a hand from the 'no' country Norway?" NRK said.

Nobel Committee president Jagland is also the secretary general of the Council of Europe and a fervent supporter of the 27-nation bloc, but according to recent polls, nearly three-quarters of Norwegians are opposed to their country becoming a member.

Such a prize would come 60 years after the birth of the EU predecessor, the European Coal and Steel Community, helping to ensure peace and stability on a continent recently ripped apart by war.

Among other predictions for this year's Nobel is Afghan rights activist and burqa opponent Sima Samar, Coptic Christian Maggie Gobran, dubbed Egypt's "Mother Teresa" for her work to help the poor in Cairo's slums, and Moscow Echo Radio, described by some as the last bastion of free media in the country, and its chief editor Alexei Venediktov.

In all, 231 individuals and organisations are in the running for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

The winner will be announced at the Nobel Institute in Oslo on Friday at 11:00 am (0900 GMT).

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China forced evictions on the rise: rights group
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