Ruslan Kotsaba has renounced the honor after coming in for criticism for anti-Semitic comments. The journalist had previously distanced himself from the statements and apologized.
A controversy surrounding the award of the Aachen Peace Prize to Ruslan Kotsaba has now become a non-issue following the Ukrainian journalist's decision to forsake the accolade. His decision comes after accusations of prejudicial remarks.
The reporter, who is a former political prisoner, had been in line to pick up the award on September 1, a day marked in Germany as anti-war day. However, the initial selection by the board came under scrutiny due to revelations of anti-Semitic statements the 52-year-old made in a video from 2011.
Spokeswoman Lea Heuser said: "In our view, people have the right to continue their development and also to change basic attitudes."
Kotsaba was originally awarded the prize in early May for his commitment to a peaceful solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. In his reports, he described the conflict as a "civil war" and called for conscientious objection.
When a recording with anti-Semitic remarks emerged, the board decided to withdraw the award. A final decision, however, could only have been made by an Extraordinary General Assembly. Now that Kotsaba has turned down the award, this is no longer necessary, though a members' meeting will still be held on June 14 to reassess the case.
The award includes prize money of €2,000 ($2,227) and seeks to honor individuals or groups who contribute to peace and understanding. Other winners include the "Initiative Against Nuclear Weapons" and the network "Büchel is everywhere — nuclear weapon-free now!"
The Aachen Peace Prize was created in 1988 with the intention of demonstrating an "appreciation of women, men and groups who, viewing the world from the perspective of the underprivileged, have made a contribution to mutual understanding and assistance among individuals and peoples," according to the organization's website.
jsi/rt (KNA, dpa, AFP)