Russia has suggested that Julian Assange should be awarded the Nobel peace prize, in an unexpected show of support from Moscow for the WikiLeaks founder, who is currently in custody in the U.K. pending an extradition hearing.

In what appears to be a calculated dig at the U.S., the Kremlin urged non-governmental organisations to think seriously about “nominating Assange as a Nobel Prize laureate”.

“Public and non-governmental organisations should think of how to help him,” the source from inside President Dmitry Medvedev's office told Russian news agencies. Speaking in Brussels, where Mr. Medvedev was attending a Russia-EU summit on Wednesday, the source went on: “Maybe, nominate him as a Nobel Prize laureate.” Russia's reflexively suspicious leadership appears to have come round to WikiLeaks, having decided that the ongoing torrent of disclosures are ultimately far more damaging and disastrous to America's long-term geopolitical interests than they are to Russia's.

Initial reaction

The Kremlin's initial reaction to stories dubbing Russia a corrupt “mafia state” and kleptocracy was negative. Mr. Medvedev's spokesman dubbed the revelations “not worthy of comment” while Putin raged that a U.S. diplomatic cable comparing him to Batman and Mr. Medvedev to Robin was “arrogant” and “unethical”. State TV ignored the claims.— © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2010

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