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Russian leaders on Obama's Nobel: too soon

The foreign affairs committee chair says the president 'has not been active in world politics long enough' to deserve the prize. Only Mikhail Gorbachev says choosing Obama is 'the right decision.'

October 10, 2009|Megan K. Stack

MOSCOW — Improving badly eroded relations with Moscow and pushing for cuts in both U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles have been key pieces of President Obama's revamped foreign policy.

But as word of his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize spread through Moscow on Friday, the reaction was distinctly chilly.

No official congratulations were immediately forthcoming from the Kremlin.

"The awarding of the prize to Obama testifies to the deep disappointment caused by the policies of George Bush," Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the upper house of the Russian parliament, told the RIA Novosti news service. "Obama, with all his virtues, has not been active in world politics long enough for people to be able to say with a clear conscience, 'Yes, he deserves it.' "

The prize, Margelov said, was "an advance that he will have to work off for his entire political career."

On the streets of Moscow, ordinary Russians were equally nonplused.

"Didn't they have any other, more deserving candidates? Did Obama stop a war or something?" said Sergei Golovonov, a 34-year-old businessman.

"As far as I know, he can't even close down the Guantanamo prison as he promised."

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megan.stack@latimes.com

Times staff writer Sergei L. Loiko contributed to this report.

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