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Nobel Peace Prize: Could a Russian win this year?

Several Russian contenders are among the favorites for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, to be awarded Friday. But a Russian winner could make for sour relations between Norway and Russia.

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Two years ago, the Nobel Peace Prize soured relations between Norway and China after the Norwegian Nobel Committee named a Chinese dissident the 2010 winner. And Norway could be set for a similar diplomatic tiff – this time with Russia – when the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize is awarded on Friday.

Memorial, the Russian organization focusing on human rights, democracy, and reconciliation through historical documentation, is a top contender according to Kristian Berg Harpviken, director at the Peace Research Institute Oslo, and Norwegian Nobel historian Asle Sveen.

Memorial is also the sixth top pick according to online betting site Paddy Power, whose odds are often a gauge to the prize's frontrunners.

Mr. Harpviken says the prize could be shared with Memorial founding member Svetlana Gannushkina, whereas Mr. Sveen suggests it may also go to Belarus dissident Ales Bialiatski, who is currently in prison, and Russian human rights campaigner Lyudmila Alexejeva.

Stirring a backlash?

A Russian prize could lead to a political backlash similar to the uproar after the Norwegian Nobel Committee in 2010 gave the prize to imprisoned Chinese human rights dissident Liu Xiaobo.

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