15:56 GMT19 April 2021
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    For decades, Russia has been the convenient boogeyman Western politicians use every time there is a slim chance something will go "wrong." Sweden has recently joined the US-conducted chorus of nations which claim the Russian media could influence the fate of elections in other countries.

    Amid the ongoing hysteria around Moscow's alleged tampering with the outcome of the US election, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven warned that Russia could try and influence the Swedish election "as well."

    Löfven's anti-Russian rant came against the backdrop of a report by the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI), which claimed that Russia was using "fake news" and "propaganda" to influence Sweden's decision-making. Remarkably, a major chapter of the report, which was written to "prove" that Russia may influence Sweden's decision-making process and public opinion, deals with obviously outdated historical reality, such as the USSR's influence after World War II, which clearly indicates that its authors are stuck with a Cold War mentality.

    Upon closer examination, however, it turned out that the report, which, among other things, accused RT and Sputnik of spreading disinformation, in fact does not hold water. Much of the supposedly state-of-the-art report actually deals with the analysis of the short-lived Swedish language version of Sputnik, which was terminated almost a year ago, after having been launched only in April 2015. At present, Sputnik Sweden is unavailable for readers, so it remains unclear how it could influence Swedish voters.

    Besides portraying Sputnik in a highly unfavorable light as "highly inconsistent" and "pandering to pet-narratives," the report accused it of fabrications. However, it only listed Sputnik Sweden's coverage of the story on Malaysian civilian airliner MH17, which crashed in war-torn Donbass in July 2014 as an example thereof. The reason for this being that Sputnik Sweden reported that the aircraft was being followed by a Ukrainian military jet prior to the crash and claimed Ukraine was responsible since the crash had happened in Ukrainian airspace, which contradicted the mainstream media's narrative, which attributed guilt to a Russian surface-to-air missile.

    Another logical slip is that Sputnik Sweden allegedly "relied, with very few exceptions, on rewrites of already existing news stories from established media outlets," yet at the same time was concluded to "sow doubt about the Swedish political system" and "influence the political development in a direction favorable to the strategic interests of the Kremlin."

    Widar Nord, the editor-in-chief of news outlet Fria Tider, which was identified in the report as a spreader of "Russian propaganda" simply for having referred to Sputnik Sweden, is skeptical about the report.

    "UI is the Swedish Armed Forces' informal press department and should be taken with a grain of salt. However, it's hardly surprising that a body that habitually fences off half of the Stockholm Archipelago to hunt non-existent Russian submarines also produces reports on Russian psy-ops that don't exist either," Widar Nord told Swedish news outlet Nyheter Idag.

    Ironically, the very same report that accused Sputnik also targeted Aftonbladet and Dagens Nyheter for "spreading Russian disinformation." These are two of Sweden's largest newspapers, and have a generic liberal-left disposition and publish pronounced anti-Kremlin rhetoric. In 2014, Aftonbladet's cultural section published over 30 articles on developments in the former USSR, including the rise of fascism in Ukraine and Crimea's re-unification with Russia, as well as voicing criticism of former Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, the EU and NATO. Apparently, this was enough to constitute "Russian propaganda."


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    fake news, propaganda, psychological warfare, Aftonbladet, Dagens Nyheter, Sputnik, Stefan Löfven, Russia, Scandinavia, Sweden
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