Ukraine to attend Nobel ceremony after public pressure

KIEV, December 9, 2010 (AFP) – Ukraine will send a diplomat to the Nobel peace prize ceremony for jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiabo, a foreign ministry official said Thursday, after Kiev initially joined a boycott led by China. Ukraine will send the first secretary of the Ukrainian embassy in Norway to the ceremony on Friday, a spokesman for the foreign ministry told AFP.

“We consider this issue a technicality, but given the public reaction, we have reached this agreement with the Nobel committee,” spokesman Alexander Dikusarov said.

Ukraine had earlier joined Serbia and Russia as the only European countries to decline to send representatives to Friday’s ceremony.

Kiev’s decision not to attend caused a scandal at home, with observers saying Ukraine had caved into China’s threat of “consequences” for countries that showed support to Liu. Ukraine initially said that the ambassador could not attend because he was travelling to a meeting in Kiev, but rights activists accused Ukraine’s pro-Russian leadership of bowing to pressure from Moscow and Beijing.