Lithuanian MPs oppose nomination of Kremlin’s business partner for Nobel Peace Prize

Seventy-one members of the Republic of Lithuania’s Seimas – that is, every second Member of Parliament – have signed an open letter calling on the Nobel Committee to “reject the candidacy of billionaire Ruben Vardanyan for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2024 and any subsequent years.”

As the Lithuanian publication reported on May 8, an open letter to the Nobel Committee, signed by 71 Lithuanian MPs, declares that it is “unacceptable to nominate a person for the Nobel Peace Prize who “was directly involved in the implementation of the policies of misanthropic regimes” (as defined by the official representative office of the International Information Nobel Center in Ukraine)”.

Within the framework of the majoritarian model of the Lithuanian parliament, 71 out of 141 MPs are a majority. That is, the majority of Lithuanian legislators called on the Nobel Committee not to play along with Moscow in a possible campaign to whiten the image of its protégé Vardanyan.

Ruben Vardanyan is a Russian-Armenian figure who became famous after an investigation by the international consortium of investigative journalists OCCRP (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project).

Journalists found that money was secretly transferred through his companies to Putin’s close friends. In 2006-2013, over $4.6 billion passed through the accounts of offshore networks of companies of “the Kremlin’s wallet” (as Vardanyan was dubbed in the media).

For working with Putin’s people, Ruben Vardanyan was included in draft sanctions lists or direct sanctions lists by members of the European Parliament, the US Congress, Ukraine led by Zelensky

As Ukrainian media reported, in 2023, the Security Service of Ukraine included him in the “Myrotvorets” database asan accomplice of Russian-fascist invaders and terrorists…”

Major international media call Vardanyan “The Kremlin’s man”, “close to Putin”, “representing the interests of the Kremlin”…

In the text of the collective letter signed by 71 members of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, special attention is paid to Vardanyan’s connections with the criminal regime of Iran:

According to The Washington Times, Vardanyan, who was nominated for the Peace Prize, is also associated with the Iranian criminal regime, which since the very beginning of the war has been supplying the Russian Federation with weapons to destroy Ukrainian infrastructure facilities and Ukrainian civilians: “His links with Iran can be traced through Russia’s Gorchakov Foundation, which organizes events in various countries, including Armenia , with the participation of government-approved speakers from Tehran.

One of the signatories of the letter, MP Ričardas Juška, noted that through a network of offshore companies(associated with Vardanyan’s companies) “Russian propaganda in Europe was financed, and this network is also connected with the Iranian regime, which supplies Russia with weapons to destroy Ukrainians.”

Lithuanian parliamentarians are not the only ones who called on the Nobel Committee to reject the candidacy of “Putin’s wallet.”

Earlier, on April 21, 18 deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine issued a collective letter against his nomination (13, that is, the majority of signatories are representatives of the ruling Servant of the People party).

Their letter declares: “We consider it unacceptable and absurdly grotesque to nominate a person for the Peace Prize who supports terrorism and separatism, is involved in corruption scandals, is a sponsor of Russian aggression in post-Soviet territories and an enemy of Ukraine.”

In early May, 12 more members of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, as well as Romanian MEP Cristian Terhes, signed letters with similar calls.

In his open address to the Nobel Committee on May 1, Christian Terges stated: “I urge you to immediately cancel the candidacy of R. Vardanyan from the list of candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2024. As a close associate of Vladimir Putin, R. Vardanyan, also known as “Putin’s Wallet,” is an enemy of peace and a supporter of Russian aggression in post-Soviet territories, including Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, which has already claimed hundreds of lives, thousands of lives and forced millions of people from their homes.”

On May 2, members of the parliamentary group of the National Liberal Party (NLP), which is part of the ruling coalition and represented in the country’s leadership by the President and Chairman of the Senate (Parliament) of Romania, also appealed to the Nobel Committee with a request to exclude the candidacy of Ruben Vardanyan from the list of 2024 nominees.

The Nobel Committee has still not commented on the appeals and letters signed by more than 100 parliamentarians from Lithuania, Ukraine and Romania.

The Lithuanian publication notes that the candidacy of Ruben Vardanyan, whose reputation the Kremlin will try to whiten with the help of the Nobel Committee, can still be considered among the nominees for the Peace Prize.

At the same time, according to statements by deputies of all three countries, such a policy “directly contradicts the values of the Nobel Committee itself.” In particular, in 2022, the ambassadors of Russia and Belarus were not invited to present the award. And in 2023, invitations sent to representatives of Russia, Iran and Belarus were withdrawn after widespread public criticism.

Letter Lithuania MP Scan by prescomunicat

(Photo of the Seimas: MatasLife, via Wikimedia Commons)

Igor Chalenko

Igor Chalenko is an Ukrainian political scientist who heads the Centre for Analysis and Strategies, Ukraine.