Moscow: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates have been nominated for the Confucius Peace Prize, China's equivalent to the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Confucius Peace Prize started in 2010, when it was announced just before jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Other candidates for this year include South African President Jacob Zuma and former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, reports said.

In July, Berlin-based organisation Werkstatt Deutschland announced plans to give Putin the Quadriga Award as a 'role model for enlightenment, dedication and the public good'.

The plan came under attack in the media and the political community. Many German public figures protested the idea, saying Putin's human rights record made him an unacceptable candidate.

Putin served with the KGB in East Germany for five years until German reunification in 1990.

Later, the organisation reversed its decision to award Putin the prestigious prize.

President Dmitry Medvedev later blasted the German organisation for reversing its earlier decision.