Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Czechoslovak leader Vaclav Havel lead among likely candidates for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, say veteran Nobel observers.

Other likely contenders as the 1990 Nobel season begins this weekend are Nelson Mandela, the South African activist freed after 27 years imprisonment, and Chai Ling, a leader of the 1989 student movement in China.With the start of the 1990 season, Norway's Peace Prize Committee prepares to announce its laureate for the honor, which in the past has gone to leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Desmond Tutu, Mother Theresa and Henry Kissinger.

The 1990 decision will be made public by the Committee's new chairman, Gidske Andersson, at 11 a.m. local time Oct. 15. This year's prize is worth $670,000 and includes a gold medal and a diploma to be presented to the winner at a ceremony in Oslo Dec. 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death.