MOSCOW (AFP) - A patriotic Russian group on Tuesday called for President Vladimir Putin to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his Syria diplomacy, claiming he was more deserving of the award than 2009's laureate, United States President Barack Obama.
A group that lists senior Russian officials among its members announced at a news conference that it had written to the Nobel prize committee backing Mr Putin for the prize awarded to Mr Obama in 2009.
The group says Mr Putin deserves the honour for his efforts in brokering an agreement for Syria to hand over its chemical weapons under international control, a plan the group says helped avert a "new world war".
"The letter to the Nobel committee was sent Sept 16 and received Sept 20," said the group's leader Georgy Trapeznikov.
Ruling party lawmaker Iosif Kobzon, who is also a famous pop star, said that Mr Putin was more deserving of the Nobel than Mr Obama.
"Our President, who is trying to stop the war and suggest a political solution, is more worthy of such a title," Mr Kobzon said.
He slammed Mr Obama as "the person who initiated and approved such aggressive acts as Iraq and Afghanistan and who is preparing for intervention in Syria".
Mr Putin in August called for Mr Obama to remember his Nobel status and not intervene in Syria to avoid casualties.
Mr Kobzon, a 76-year-old Soviet-era crooner, is no fan of the US, which has regularly refused him entry, although the embassy does not comment on the reasons.
In Russia he is long rumoured to have connections to organised crime, although he hotly denies this.
The proposal was made by a group that calls itself the International Academy of Spiritual Unity of the Peoples of the World, although its role is unclear.
Its website says its presidium includes former prime minister Yevgeny Primakov and the first woman in space Valentina Tereshkova.
It also lists Russian-backed officials in the rebel Georgian region of Abkhazia.