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    Swedish Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna)

    'Russia-Friendly' Swedish Right-Winger Backs Down Amid Smear Campaign

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    Sweden Democrat Stefan Borg has come under fire from the country's left-wing media for calling Russia a "stabilizing and peace-making power," as well as welcoming Russian observers at Swedish elections.

    The Sweden Democrat group leader in Hörby municipality has decided to drop his candidacy for the post of chairman of the municipal council, which would have been the first ever for his party following their successful September election.

    "I have decided not to apply for the post of chairman of the municipal council. The media attention directed at my person has made it impossible for the party in Hörby to focus on what is important, that is, Hörby's future and the policy we want to pursue for the municipality," Stefan Berg said in a press release. "I am confident we have a competent and motivated substitute with better opportunities to pursue a policy in Hörby based on our program," he added, citing his commitment to a "more constructive political climate."

    The right-wing Swedish Democrats, who in Sweden's left-leaning politics are often seen as outcasts or an "enfant terrible," became the largest party in the municipality of Skåne and the scene was set to reach a new milestone of leading a municipality for the first time ever.

    In weeks following the election, Borg came under scrutiny from left-wing media and watchdogs, who found some of his posts on social media to be incompatible with Swedish values.

    READ MORE: Sweden Democrats Triumph Among Men, Elderly, Workers — Reports

    One such statement was made in connection with the Pride Festival in Malmö and the decision of Hörby municipality to hoist a rainbow flag.

    "Everything is for everyone, no limits here, in Hörby everyone should be included, everyone should feel pride, necrophiliacs, pedophiles, coprophagists, bestialists — you name it!" Borg wrote on his Facebook page. Later, he claimed this quote to be taken out of context.

    On another occasion, he stated the following: "Our children are most likely to become the last generation to live in a country that is majority-Swedish." This, coupled with the expression "population swap," which the left-wing "anti-racism watchdog" Expo, founded by best-selling author Stieg Larsson, bills as a "white power term," earned him the "far right" label.

    Yet another controversy blown up by the media is Berg's membership in a Russian-friendly group on Facebook, where he called Russia a "stabilizing and peace-making power." According to the tabloid daily Expressen, Borg also expressed his wish for Russian election observers to be invited to Sweden, called to celebrate Russia Victory Day on May 9 rather than Europe Day, and ventured that the Swedish Civil Protection Agency (MSB) was wrong to warn of Russian influence campaigns. This obviously contradicts Stockholm's stance, which commonly describes Russia as assertive and aggressive. Berg claimed that he wrote these posts as a private person, not as a politician, and specifically distanced himself from Russia by saying that he wasn't fond of Russian leadership.

    READ MORE: 'Victory or Death': Top Sweden Democrat Stirs Nation With 'Warlike' 'Pep Talk'

    The right-wing Sweden Democrats have long been the only party in the Swedish parliament to oppose mass immigration and demand stricter laws targeting crime. Under the leadership of Jimmie Åkesson, they have consistently upped their electoral performance to 17.5 percent in 2018, yet remain the only parliamentary party with no formal partners due to the pariah status.

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