Russian president Vladimir Putin has won a Nobel prize.
Not the better-known Nobel Peace Prize handed out by the Oslo-based committee to luminaries such as last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev or ex-South African President Nelson Mandela.
Instead, Putin has won the Ludvig Nobel Prize for services to Russia - an award organized by Russian businessmen and artists which, apart from shared historical roots, has no connection to today's Nobel Peace Prize.
"Under the previous president, (Boris) Yeltsin, there was chaos and lawlessness," Yevgeny Lukoshkov, who heads the Ludvig Nobel Prize's selection committee, said.
"Somebody had to stand up and take responsibility and stop the robberies and murders. Putin took responsibility for eight years."
Putin, 55, leaves office next month after eight years in which he has become Russia's most popular politician.
Most Russians credit him with overseeing the longest economic boom in a generation, creating political stability and restoring the country's standing on the world stage. A minority accuse Putin of trampling on democratic freedoms.
"He was very pleased to win," Lukoshkov said. "But he couldn't make it to the ceremony. I don't know why."
Ludvig Nobel, who lived mainly in St Petersburg and became a Russian citizen, was older brother of Alfred Nobel - founder of the Nobel Prizes for physics, chemistry, medicine and literature in Stockholm and the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.
Like his brother, Ludvig made huge profits in the 19th century by extracting oil from the coastline around the Azeri capital Baku. He is also credited with inventing the oil tanker.
In 1888, seven years after Ludvig Nobel's death the Imperial Russian Technology Society established the Ludvig Nobel prize.
(China Daily April 22, 2008)