Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev accepted the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize in absentia Monday. He said problems in his homeland prevented him from coming to the awards ceremony.

"I do not regard the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize as an award to me personally but as a recognition of what we call perestroika and innovative political thinking, which is of vital significance for human destinies all over the world," Gorbachev said in a message from Moscow.In an acceptance speech read by his envoy, Anatoly Kovalyov, Gorbachev promised to continue the process of openness and reform. Kovalyov said the prize's $715,000 cash award probably would be donated to worthy causes.

Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry, literature, medicine and economics were to be awarded later Monday in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said the 71st Peace Prize recognized Gorbachev's international efforts, more than his domestic policies.

But committee leader Gidske Anderson said at the Oslo City Hall ceremony that she hoped the award would be seen as "a helping hand in an hour of need" as Gorbachev and the Soviet people cope with the restructuring of their economy and government.