Russian President Vladimir Putin is among the 278 nominees for a 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, according to Peace Research Institute Oslo, an institution that closely tracks the Nobel committee's work.
Putin, who of course is now at the center of one of the world's most dangerous situations — the crisis in Ukraine — has been "nominated by the International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation Among the Nations of the World and backed by Russian MP Iosif Kobzon, for his averting of an air strike on Syria after the chemical gas attacks in August 2013," PRIO reports.
According to the Nobel committee, the 278 nominations for this year's prize "is the highest number of candidates ever. The previous record was 259 from 2013."
We've reported before that the so-called NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, is among the nominees.
Among others who PRIO says it has confirmed are on the list:
-- Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen who was shot by the Taliban because of her outspoken support for the education of girls. She was a nominee last year as well.
-- Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning. The Army private is now serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking the largest amount of classified information in U.S. history.
Yousafzai and Snowden have made it onto PRIO Director Kristian Berg Harpviken's shortlist of likely Peace Prize honorees. The other three people he puts on that list:
-- Pope Francis. Harpviken points out that in the year since he became pope, Francis "has brought attention to the fate of the poor, and the need for a new approach to development and economic redistribution. ... Pope Francis has also instilled new hope for reform of the Catholic Church. He has himself adopted a more modest appearance than his predecessors, uses social media extensively, and signals accessibility for the common man and woman."
-- Novaya Gazeta, a newspaper that PRIO notes was "set up in 1993 at the initiative of Mikhail Gorbachev, who devoted part of his Nobel Peace Prize money for the purpose. The newspaper has since experienced the killings of several of its journalists. Its website has been exposed to numerous cyberattacks."
-- Denis Mukwege, a doctor who for more than a decade "has given medical treatment to survivors of sexual violence. In 1999 he founded the Panzi Hospital in Bakuvu, DR Congo."
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate will be announced in October.