Disinfo: Sweden attempts to use the “Russian threat” to avoid attention to the country’s failure on fighting COVID-19

Summary

The Swedish parliament has decided to enlarge the military budget with 40 percent. The main argument for this is Stockholm’s concern with the “Russian threat” in the Baltic Sea.

/…/

When the whole world entered to quarantine, the Swedish authorities decided not to do so. Now they are reaping the harvest of what they have sown – enormous social, medical and economical problems.

But the Swedish media keeps quiet on this and attempts to show a pretty face. In order not to let the public know about the country’s internal problems, the media evokes different kinds of mythical threats, sacrificing enormous amounts of money to fortify positions of NATO at our borders. Why recognise your own mistakes, when you can find an external enemy and blame everything on him?

Disproof

The Parliament of Sweden has decided to significantly increase budget spendings into “total defence” - to civil contingency planning, civil defence - and military. This decision is based partly from the experiences of Russia’s aggressions against Georgia in 2008, the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine in Donbas.

Sweden is not a member of NATO and needs to rely on its own resources for repelling aggression and handling crises.

Sweden did introduce restrictions to fight the spread of the coronavirus, and has currently stricter restrictions than, for instance, Russia. Swedish media is, just as can be expected in a pluralistic and democratic society, intensively questioning the measures taken by the Swedish government. The King of Sweden has described the Swedish policy as “a failure”. The claim that Swedish media avoid criticism towards the government is unfounded and false.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 225
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 16/12/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Sweden
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Military, NATO

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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Latvian authorities target Sputnik and Baltnews for not conforming to their political agenda

Latvian authorities target Sputnik and Baltnews journalists because they do not conform to their political agenda

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation message about the Baltic States consistent with narratives about Russophobia.

This claim tries to portray EU sanctions on Russia, the result of its illegal actions in Ukraine, as unfair persecution against Sputnik and its employees, and against media freedom in general. In Latvia as well as in Lithuania and Estonia Sputnik and RT are being accused of spreading disinformation, violating copyrights, acting as a propaganda instrument. Different instances founded their accusations on publicly available results of investigations conducted by relevant authorities and regulatory bodies”.

FLAGGING The persecution of the Russian media in Latvia is a punitive action of Russophobic nature

The persecution of the Russian media in Latvia is nothing more than a punitive action of Russophobic nature which violates the norms of a democratic society, restricts press freedom and freedom of speech.

Disproof

In 2016, Latvia's domain registry shut the website of Sputnik Latvia after receiving a letter of concern from the Latvian Foreign Ministry, which drew attention to Sputnik's coverage of Ukraine and routine denial of Ukraine's territorial integrity. In July 2019, Latvian authorities blocked access to the online portal baltnews.lv, owned by Rossiya Segodnya, citing EU sanctions against Russia. In 2020 Latvia has banned the state-owned Russian television channel RT, saying it is controlled by an individual - Dmitriy Kiselyov, who is under EU sanctions. According to the Electronic Mass Media Council (NEPLP), Latvia's national media watchdog, RT and the network of channels operated by it are under Kiselyov's "effective control" and has attempted to present Latvia as a failed state.

Sputnik was created in Russia by a Presidential decree with the aim to “report on the state policy of Russia abroad”. Sputnik is a regular source of pro-Kremlin disinformation. Baltnews site tries to represent itself as an independent media but in 2017 an investigation showed that it is linked to the Kremlin’s global disinformation network. Baltnews is connected to the Rossiya Segodnya state-owned media company, which includes Sputnik News.