China: Putin's "Nobel" prize

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Dec. 7, 2011.</p>

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Dec. 7, 2011.

A Chinese group on Friday gave out its alternate to the Nobel Peace Prize, with two Russian exchange students standing in for Vladimir Putin, the AP reports.

The Confucius Prize first appeared last year, as a homegrown alternate to the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel committee infuriated official China when it awarded the peace prize to writer and free speech advocate Liu Xiaobo.

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Liu, who is serving an extended prison sentence related to his activism, became the first Chinese citizen in China to win a Nobel, a fact not lost on a country that's known to be somewhat obsessed by the fact its citizens don't typically win the prize. Neither Liu nor his family were allowed to attend the prize ceremony in Oslo and he remains in prison

The Confucius Prize, which was mocked last year when it was given to a top Taiwanese politician, was initially shelved this year before being resurrected. The award to Putin on Friday coincided with a campaign by five former Nobel Peace Prize winners to pressure China to release Liu from prison.