Vladimir Putin, Russia’s premier pacifist, has racked up yet another global accolade – the world renowned Confucius Peace Prize.
The organisers awarded the prize to Putin for his outstanding contribution to world peace – namely opposing the bombing of Libya. Qiao Damo, a member of the organising committee told reporters that “this April or May, Putin was against Nato’s idea to bomb Libya and he appeared to the world in a peaceful manner. This year’s peace prize was given to him because his act this year was outstanding in keeping world peace.”
Nine of the organising committee’s sixteen members voted for Putin, leaving him victorious in a field containing “Gyaltsen Norbu (the “Chinese Panchen Lama”), Bill Gates, South African President Jacob Zuma, former UN chief Kofi Annan, Yuan Longping, a Chinese agricultural scientist known as the “father of hybrid rice”, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and Taiwanese politician James Soong (宋楚瑜)”
(How Merkel, who recently praised NATO’s Libya campaign got onto the shortlist in the first place isn’t entirely clear.)
Given the widespread media coverage of the award, it’s safe to assume that Putin is now aware of his triumph; however neither the man himself or the Russian authorities have yet commented and it seems likely that, given the ridicule the prize has received, Putin will probably decline to make the trip to Beijing for the awards ceremony on 9 December (the day before the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony). The last person to receive the award – Lien Chan, the former Vice President of Taiwan – didn’t know he had won until after he heard about it in the press, and didn’t turn up to the awards ceremony in Beijing. Instead an un-named little girl known only as an “angel of peace” solemnly accepted the award – and the $15,000 prize money on his behalf.
Putin may also be influenced in his decision not to attend by the somewhat dodgy provenance of the Committee organising the award. After last year’s farce, the Chinese Government told the prize organisers to disband immediately.
On Sept. 19, the ministry ordered the so-called protection department to disband and not to organize any activities under the auspices of the Association of Chinese Indigenous Arts. The order said that the department had held a news conference on Sept. 17 about the second Confucius Peace Prize without official approval, and that the group had improperly used the ministry’s name and violated its rules. The order was posted on the ministry’s Web site last Tuesday.
They obeyed their instructions, and then promptly reformed into a slightly different organisation offering the same prize, no doubt much to the embarrasment of China’s Government.