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Norwegian secret service accuses Russia of attempts to influence Nobel Committee

January 28, 2017, 8:20 UTC+3 OSLO

The PSS told the media Russian secret services were allegedly keen to influence decisions made by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which names the laureates of the Peace Prize

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OSLO, January 28. /TASS/. Norwegian Police Security Service claims that Russia in 2015 took steps in order to prevent the Nobel Peace Prize from being awarded to Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko, the Norwegian government-owned television broadcaster NRK said on Friday evening.

The PSS told the media Russian secret services were allegedly keen to influence decisions made by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which names the laureates of the Peace Prize. In the summer of 2015 on-line resources published a letter signed by Vladimir Groisman (the then Ukrainian parliamentary speaker, currently the country’s prime minister - TASS) addressed to the US charge d’affairs in Norway. Groisman thanked the US diplomats for securing support from two of the five members of the Nobel Committee, but at the same time remarked that what they had managed to achieve did not correspond to the "original agreements" and that for President Poroshenko it was "extremely important to have the guarantees" the prize would be awarded to him. After the document gained wide publicity in the world web two Russian embassy officials requested meeting with the Nobel Committee’s Secretary, Director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute Olav Njolstad.

Signs of paranoia

"After that visit we wondered if it was an attempt to put pressures on us, so we contacted the Police Security Service," Njolstad told the NRK. The Norwegian secret service suspects that one of the diplomats who paid a visit to the Nobel Institute’s director was in reality a Russian foreign intelligence officer, and that the visit itself was part of a special operation. The Russian embassy has addressed the NRK with a written commentary to disagree with such suspicions and expressed regret over the PSS’s attempts to look for spies among the diplomats. The embassy described as "paranoia" the attempts to present "routine diplomatic work" by embassy officials as secret operations.

"We believe it is strange the NRK wastes time and resources on such falsehoods. The NRK should be aware that it is an important aspect of work by diplomats of any country to collect and analyze information regarding foreign and domestic policy and exchange opinions with partners. This is precisely the purpose of all meetings with Nobel Committee officials, including the mentioned one," the embassy said in a commentary.

The Russian diplomats pointed out that the Norwegian secret services find it much easier to obtain better funding and wider powers by systematically making references to a Russian threat. Fighting non-existent challenges is far easier than struggling with real international terrorism, the embassy said.

Cards laid down

"We saw false news and a forged letter being used for discrediting a potential nominee for the Peace Prize. This makes the incident so serious," the chief of the PSS’s counter-intelligence unit, Arne Christian Haugstoyl, told the media. "We decided to disclose this information to brief the public and the country’s leadership on this threat. This is the best means available to ward off that threat."

The PSS speculated Russian hackers might have made attempts to get access to the servers of Norwegian Nobel Institute’s staff.

Secret list

The 2015 Nobel Peace Prize went to the Tunisian National Dialog Quartet for its attempts to cope with the effects of the color revolution in that North African country. It remains unclear whether the Ukrainian president was among the nominees. The lists of contenders for the Alfred Nobel prizes are a great secret. The Nobel Foundation agrees to make public the documents concerning such decisions only fifty years later.

Shortly after Groisman’s letter to the Nobel Committee appeared in the world web the Ukrainian parliament said it was a fake. The US embassy in Oslo and the Norwegian Nobel Institute, too, declared it was a forgery.

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