A call for an April 10 International Day of Solidarity with the people of Odessa!

A CALL FOR AN APRIL 10 INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY
WITH THE PEOPLE OF ODESSA!

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The days following May, 2 2014 saw people visiting the burnt House of Unions leaving flowers in respect to the victims. Later, the building was cordoned off. Erected memorials on the Kulikovo square have been vandalised and torn down. Relatives and others who visit the site are harassed and sometimes they are attacked by far-right groups.
Foto: Gail Orenstein/Corbis

<< Swedish version: Click here >>

To draw attention to the Ukrainian government’s repression of opposition forces in Odessa and Ukraine, Odessa solidarity campaign is calling for an International Day of Solidarity with the People of Odessa on April 10, 2017.

  • All out for the April 10 International Day of Solidarity with the People of Odessa!   
  • Free Alexander Kushnarev, Anatoly Slobodyanik and all political prisoners in Ukraine!   
  • Stop the repression against relatives & supporters of those killed on May 2, 2014!   
  • No to right-wing extremism in Ukraine and all over the world!

Odessa solidarity campaign is calling for rallies, vigils and demonstrations outside Ukrainian embassies and consular offices around the world. Activists for peace (In Swedish: Aktivister för fred) supports the call and plans to deliver a statement to the Ukrainian Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.

We call on others to also support the International Day of Solidarity.

Please spread this appeal. For PDF-format: Click here.

If you want to take an active role and show your support for the people of Odessa, you are welcome to get in touch with Activists for Peace. Send a message via Facebook or e-mail the aktivisterforfred(at)gmail.com to get in touch with us.

In case you are planning a campaign outside of Stockholm, Sweden; make direct contact Odessa Solidarity Campaign DefendersFJE(at)hotmail.com in order to register your interest to participate.


Since February 2014 when the democratically elected president Viktor Janykovych, in violation of the constitution and with support of Western governments and right-wing paramilitary groups, was overthrown; the right of Ukrainian people to free speech has been steadily restricted.

The continuing demand of Odessans for an international independent investigation into the massacre at Kulikovo square has been a particular irritant to the federal government.

February 23, 2017 Alexander Kushnarev (65 years) was arrested by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU). Kushnarev, who is a deputy of the Limansk District Council, is also father of one of the young people murdered in the house of unions in Odessa May, 2 2014. The father is actively working for an investigation into to the murder of his son and that those responsible are brought to justice. Anatoly Slobodyanik (68 years), who is a retired military officer (Lieutenant General) and chairman of Odessa Organisation of Veterans of Armed Forces, was also arrested. It is unclear what they are accused of and why they are being held in custody. Earlier on, Odessan region’s chief prosecutor Oleg Zhuchenko said that the two men were planning to kidnap a member of the country’s Rada, or parliament. These allegations have been met with criticism from several quarters, including from politicians and former diplomats.

The Rada deputy, Alexei Goncharenko, who is elected on a mandate from President Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc, is controversial even for the current Ukrainian government. May 2, 2014, he was at the scene in Odessa. He reported live on Ukrainian television about “victory over the separatists” and this was met with applause from the studio. Goncharenko also went into the building and, among other things, he was photographed next to Kushanarevs dead son.

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Photo from court hearings in the cases against Alexander Kushnarev och Anatolij Slobodyanik, March, 10 2017.
Foto: Таймер

Another person is under house arrest, while Kushanarev and Slobodynanik are detained in Odessa. There, it is considered that conditions in prison are aimed at breaking the prisoner’s will to resist. Uniting Nations (UN) has reported on the inhumane conditions and about forced “confessions” as detainees are held by SBU in Odessa.

The two older men have health problems and it is feared that they will not survive confinement. In early March, it was reported that Slobodynanik’s heart problems worsened. A doctor was called in who later ruled that it is not understandable why the former Lieutenant-General is not given house arrest instead of being imprisoned. The Ukrainian authorities refuse to take this into account in their assessments of the case. Health problems prevented Slobodyanik to be present during the last court hearing of his case where it was decided that he is going to be held until the middle of May. Kushanarev will be imprisoned at least until the end of April when the new court hearing is scheduled.

Since the two men were arrested, the Ukrainian police have searched through their homes and also the homes of their relatives and others. Ominous reports are now surfacing about plans to arrest more relatives and supporters and extract “confessions” of plans to commit violent acts against the Ukrainian government. The United Nations has repeatedly reported on cases of forced “confessions” in Ukrainian prisons, including in Odessa.

If the voices of these brave people are allowed to be silenced, Ukraine will have taken another huge step toward becoming an undemocratic police state in collusion with murderous right-wing groups.

April, 10 is a date of great significance to all Odessans, as it marks the day in 1944 when Odessa was liberated from years of axis occupation.

Take action on April, 10 and all other days in solidarity with the people of Odessa and Ukraine!


Activists for peace (In Swedish: Aktivister för fred) is a non-profit organisation that was formed May 9, 2015 and works with a platform of: 1) Peace on earth and peace with earth, 2) Support for conflict resolution and in favour of peace negotiations – no to war, 3) Yes to common security – no to rearmament and 4) Yes to investments for social justice and the environment – no to austerity policies in Ukraine, Europe and elsewhere.

The Odessa Solidarity Campaign is a project of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC). It was founded in May 2016 following the second anniversary memorial of the massacre of May 2, 2014. A delegation of UNAC members from the United States attended the memorial, which was held at Odessa’s Kulikovo square.

To all peace loving people in Europe and the world – Time to join hands for peace in Ukraine

The time has now come to join hands for peace in Ukraine. The passivity which has characterised so many peace movements and progressive political parties must come to an end. The present escalation of hostilities in Eastern Ukraine and the largest humanitarian catastrophe in Europe must be addressed by both civil society and governments.

All efforts must taken to create direct contact with the civil societies across frontlines and between East and West. Equal pressure must be put on all actors to fulfill the Minsk II agreement. Lets rebuild a hope for a better future by not giving an inch more to war mongers who promote animosity, militarisation and armament instead of building trust.

The information blockade silencing the war and its consequences and the distortion of the facts to legitimise further passivity must be dissolved by a multitude of peace voices. First hand information about the conditions on both side of the frontline and especially the living conditions of the civilian population must be brought to the public.

We are a movement from Sweden called Activists for peace. We are motived by the lack of action from existing organisations and are now initiating a campaign in Sweden. We also call for All-European action. Our campaign has several parts:

  1. Initiate an international petition against the way the European parliament is used to spread desinformation about the ongoing escalation of the war. This was an escalation caused by a Ukrainian military offensive taking place simultanously as an illegal economic blockade enforced by Ukrainian ultranationalists against Donbass both in contradiction with the Minsk II agreeement. Desinformation and attacks on the Minsk II agreement are supported by a great majority of the MEPs elected for responsible for Ukrainian issues.
  2. Criticize and act against how the EU-project East Stratcom becomes a threat to all peace, environmental and EU-critical voices in Europe.
  3. Support help to civilian victims of the war in Donbass. So far, 20 000 Euros have since November 2014 been collected in Sweden for humanitarian help to both sides of the contact line. We hope to raise this amount.
  4. Inform about the systematic violations of human rights in Ukraine and take part in international actions in solidarity with the parents of the victims of the Odessa massacre on May, 2 2014.
  5. Denounce the way Swedish Human rights NGOs completly ignore the systematic violations of human rights in Ukraine and instead even started an international campaign to defame a documentary about fascist violence and called it Russian propaganda. Together with key left wing activists these NGOs have been successful in, in Sweden, maintaining lack of solidarity with the people in Eastern Ukraine.
  6. Denounce the way the Swedish Institute for International Affairs has funded their researchers report which attack peace organisation, environmentalists and others as being ”interlocuotors” of Russian propaganda. Also, denounce the way this report has been uncritically disseminated internationally and used to brand opposition to the Swedish Ukrainian policy as agents of a foreign power.
  7. Inform about the situation in Donbass and Swedish Ukrainian policy including foreign minister Margot Wallström’s visit to Sergey Lavrov in Moscow February, 21 2017.

We hope you want to support one or many of these efforts.

We also hope you will find the background material useful.

Kind regards from Activists for peace

Tuesday March, 7 2017


Links to material

  1. Call for action – Sign the international petition: Say yes to peace in Ukraine! – Stop European Parliament from using disinformation and attacking Minsk II agreement.
    Read more about the petition by following this link to our blogpost: Call for action, sign our Petition: Say yes to peace in Ukraine! – Stop European Parliament from using disinformation and attacking Minsk II agreement.
    Follow this link to find and sign the international petition.
  2. The European Parliament and Sweden must stop saying No to Peace.
    An article with facts and arguments for the international petition.
  3. Debate in the European parliament by members and substitutes, Ukrainian delegation, February, 14 2017.
    The speeches are published at each MEP side on the Delegation’s web page:
    In one document you find them here (PDF-format).
  4. Report from the activities of the MEP Ukrainian delegation 2014 –2016 (PDF-format).
  5. Björk, Drake, Gahrton, Wechselmann: Stop the humanitarian crisis in Eastern Ukraine. 
Article published in Svenska Dagbladet Debatt, February, 19 2017 in relation to the launch of Activists for peace’s campaign.
    Original text in Swedish: Svenska Dagbladet Debatt and Aktivister för fred. The text is also available in Russian (PDF-format) and in English (PDF-format)
  6. Our initial Swedish campaign material for fundraising for civilian victims in Donbass/Eastern Ukraine (In Swedish).
    This is support for the Swedish humanitarian aid organisation Sankt Georgsbandet (In English: Ribbon of Saint George).
    Since the start in November 2014, Sankt Georgsbandet has distributed more than 20 000 Euros. The distribution has been mainly to LPR, but distribution have also taken place in DPR and in Slavyansk (controlled by the Ukrainian government).
  7. NGOs and research trying to silence peace voices in Sweden.
    The organised way by which Swedish peace voices opposing Sweden’s Ukrainian policy have been silenced or demonised since 2014.
  8. a) The state-funded NGO ABF stopped an exhibition about Odessa and Donbass.
    b) The Swedish left made itself passive.
    c) State funded Swedish NGOs turn a blind eye and succumb to active measures.
    Information about how Swedish NGOs and leftists have acted against making the systematic violations against Human rights in Ukraine known to the public and instead acted against making them more widely known.
    8 a-c are parts of NGOs and research trying to silence peace voices in Sweden.
  9. The Swedish Institute for International Affairs research scandal.
    The controversial Swedish Institute for International Affairs researchers’ article which has been uncritically disseminated internationally and used to, in main stream media, brand opposition to Sweden’s Ukrainian policy as agents of a foreign power.
    9 is part of NGOs and research trying to silence peace voices in Sweden.
  10. Call for action: Save Donbass people – Humanitarian agenda first, political agenda second.
  11. Donbass and Swedish Ukrainian policy.

Call for action, sign our Petition: Say yes to peace in Ukraine! – Stop European Parliament from using disinformation and attacking Minsk II agreement

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We call upon all constituencies in the European parliament to criticize the use of disinformation during the ongoing escalation and economic blockade in Eastern Ukraine and lack of support for the Minsk II agreement by its members in the European Parliament’s Ukraine delegation.

We demand that all actors including Ukraine equally follow the Minsk II agreement.

We call upon people in all of Europe to support diplomatic efforts to solve the Ukrainian conflict.

The time has come to say yes to peace in Ukraine and Europe!

Sign our international petition: Say yes to peace in Ukraine! – Stop European Parliament from using disinformation and attacking Minsk II agreement.


A vast majority of MEPs in the European parliament elected to be responsible for relations to the Ukrainian parliament have used their position to spread disinformation and attack the Minsk II agreement. It is of utmost importance for building peace that different actors do not deny facts on the ground trying to falsely blame the opponent for acts committed by the side in the conflict that EU supports. It is also of great importance that diplomatic efforts to end the conflict and human suffering are honoured. The Minsk II agreement is endorsed by the UN Security Council, i.e. at highest possible international level. Attacks against the Minsk II agreement by the vast majority of MEPs given the responsibility for addressing the Ukrainian conflict is unacceptable.

We demand that the constituencies in the European parliament immediately address the concern this creates for EU as a democratic community basing its decision on facts and not on disinformation.

Europe needs peace now. The greatest humanitarian catastrophe in Europe which is threatening the health and life of millions of people in Eastern Ukraine must be solved. The way the West says that Russia is the only actor who must follow the Minsk II agreement is creating passivity and prolonged human suffering. On the ground, the Ukrainian forces and the volunteer battalions have advanced in what is labelled as a ”creeping offensive”. This means that the Ukrainian forces are advancing into the grey zone and this is not in line with the Minsk II agreement which Ukraine has signed.

On the ground, Ukrainian ultra nationalist have since January also illegally blocked the railway transport between Ukraine and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) in order to totally break the economies of Donbass and Ukraine apart. This economic blockade is in violation of the Minsk II agreement and a threat to the economy of the Ukraine and DPR and LPR, who are tied together by mutual need for, for instance, selling coal and buying fuel for power stations. President Poroshenko strongly oppose the illegal blockade, but cannot force the ultranationalist to follow the law.

During a session in the European Parliament on the 14th of February 2017, the situation in Eastern Ukraine was presented in an erroneous way by Anna Maria Corozza Bildt, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Rebecca Harms, Dariusz Rosati, Sandra Kalniete, and several others in the European Parliament’s Ukraine delegation. They explicitly tried to undermine the Minsk II agreement by using false statements about the ongoing escalation of the conflict in order to avoid criticism against the aggressor that currently is Ukraine. A country responsible for a creeping offensive unable or not willing any longer to maintain law and order and thus letting ultra nationalists enforce an economic blockade against the Minsk II agreement.

Read more about the background and the campaign in To all peace loving people in Europe and the world – Time to join hands for peace in Ukraine.

The European Parliament must stop saying No to Peace

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

Luke 6:41, Matthew 7:3

Europe needs peace now. The greatest humanitarian catastrophe in Europe which is threatening the health and life of millions of people in Eastern Ukraine must be solved.

The largest obstacle to peace is those who claim that only the other side of the conflict has to follow the agreements made and signed. The way the West says that Russia is the only actor who must follow the Minsk II agreement is creating passivity and prolonged human suffering. Replacing the facts about what is happening on the ground with speculations about motives and to pretend that these guesses are the truth is another way to stop Europe from take steps towards peace.

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Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports from the front line of a ”creeping offensive” where the Ukrainian side inch by inch gets further into the grey demilitarized area – January, 30 2017.

On the ground, the Ukrainian forces and the volunteer battalions have advanced in what is labelled as a ”creeping offensive” by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). This means that the Ukrainian forces are advancing into the grey zone and this is in direct conflict with the Minsk II agreement. During the last two weeks, this advancement has – with the help of tanks and other weaponry who are forbidden close to the contact line – taking place along the front line and especially in the triangle of Avdeevka-Yasinovataya-Donetsk Airport. The creeping offensive have also seen the use of proscribed weaponry by the Donetsk forces. The water filtration station located in the Donetsk’s Peoples Republic (DPR) have been damaged by the Ukrainian aggression and this cause severe problems in Donetsk, but also in Avdeevka as the plant serves about 400 000 customers in areas located on both sides of the contact line.

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Hayla Coynash from Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group succumbs to speculation – February, 2 2017. 

Some Western sources avoid addressing facts on the ground and replace this by speculation. To Halya Coynash writing on the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KhPG) web site an important reason for why Ukraine is not on the offensive causing the recent escalation is the timing which made “most western analysts and media assume that Moscow had orchestrated the offensive against Avdiivka.” The shelling began the day after the first telephone conversation between Putin and Trump. According to this speculation avoiding the facts on the ground this is proof that one side started and not the other.

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Euromaidan Press writes about recent escalations in Eastern Ukraine – February, 2 2017.

Unlike KhPG Euromaidan Press do not avoid the facts on the ground. But the creeping Ukrainian offensive is actually the opposite – a “separatists’ offence” which “can be a response to Ukrainian maneuvers”. Regardless the facts on the ground to Euromaidan press turns this and many other events during the war into something else than what actually happens. In this case a Ukrainian offensive is turned into maneuvers as if suddenly Ukrainian forces by chance happens to be in the grey zone and the culprit are the separatist forces responding to the Ukrainian advancement.

Christopher Miller, a correspondent for RFE/RL, writes in his coverage that “since mid-December Ukraine’s armed forces have edged further into parts of the gray zone in or near the war-torn cities of Avdiivka, Debaltseve, Dokuchaievsk, Horlivka, and Mariupol, shrinking the space between them and the separatist fighters.” Alexander Hug, principal deputy chief monitor of the OSCE SMM to Ukraine, quoted in RFE/RL article, said that “direct result of forward moves is escalation in tension.” The Ukrainian side, however, claim that the creeping offensive is not violating the Minsk agreements as they were not crossing the demarcation line and only entered in the zone forbidden to enter by military forces according to agreements made by the contact group with all parties from DPR and LPR as well as Ukraine and OSCE as a tool to implement the Minsk II agreement.

If this by Ukraine is not called breaking the Minsk II agreement it is only an attempt to avoid facts on the ground. It is clear that both sides shoot at each other but this time it is also clear that it is the Ukrainian side that has caused the rising tension by moving forward closer to the separatist forces causing the recent escalation. Regardless of how one looks at the war as a whole the recent escalation is the result of Ukraine being the aggressor.

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Non-sanctioned economic blockade of railway transport with DPR and LPR.
The banner reads: “No financing to terrorists! Trading with occupiers means doing business on blood!”
Photo: Штаб блокади

Simultaneously with the Ukrainian creeping offensive ultra nationalist has enforced an economic blockade against DPR and LPR by blocking all railway transport violating the Minsk II agreement and against the will of the Ukrainian national security council. Since January, 26 2017; 74000 train cars laden with anthracite coal from mines in the separatist region states Fred Weir in a report in Christian Science Monitor one month after the blockade started. He writes – Backed by a coalition of oligarchs, nationalist militias, and opposition politicians, the aim of the blockade is apparently to compel a beleaguered President Poroshenko to abandon hopes of integrating the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk back into Ukraine , as called for under the Minsk II agreements.

By attacking the trade seeing Ukrainian iron ore shipped to steel mills in Donbass, and coal and steel shipped back the hope is to declare DPR and LPR occupied Russian territory according to Weir. So far Poroshenko is helplessly declaring the blockade illegal but unable to enforce law and order. The Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman states that the loss of mining and metallurgical complex of Ukraine from the blockade of the railway in the Donbass will be 3.5 billion dollars of foreign exchange earnings and 75 000 jobs will be lost. As the companies involved in the trading across the frontline by rail are registered in Ukraine and thus pay taxes to the Ukrainian state is the blockade a blow to the Ukrainian economy. In response after having sent a ultimatum demanding an end to the blockaded have the DPR and LPR authorities on March, 1 2017 nationalised the industries trying to sell their products through Russia instead.

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Homepage for European Parliament – Ukrainan delegation.

During a session in the European Parliament February, 14 2017; this situation is presented in a contra factual way. Swedish MEP Anna Maria Corozza Bildt stated that Russia, since there was uncertainty due to a new administration in Washington, was guilty of the escalation during the last weeks. She concluded with: ”As Russia is testing the US reaction, the EU should show leadership and firmly condemn Russia’s attacks”.

Jacek Saryusz-Wolski from Poland, a country that together with Sweden headed the EU:s expansion through the Eastern Partnership project towards Ukraine and other countries, stated the following: ”The more we hesitate the further Russia goes; that is new… There are 36 000 Russian troops, some regular mercenaries and others in disguise. It is necessary to leave the harmful fiction of separatists and civil war”. In this statement, the local population filling the ranks of the separatist forces are turned into pawns in a game between great powers as EU seeing Russia as an enemy. Those who emphasise such enemy images also promote that EU should throw Russia out of the UN security council and that it is better to abandon the Minsk II agreement. If this is not possible, it is seen as a must to give arms to Ukraine.

Dariusz Rosati contributed to the contra factual statements as he said that ”Renewed attacks by Russian regular and proxy troops against the Ukrainian military and civilians in the Avdiivka region have cost many human lives, caused significant material damage and represent yet another blatant violation of the Minsk Agreements.”. He said this with the assumption that this was not a blatant violation by the Ukrainian side. Black is turned into white in the European Parliament.

Sandra Kalniete, stated on behalf of the PPE group that ”we have a vital interest in stopping Putin before he moves on to other countries in Europe”. She praised the EU initiative East Stratcom which is said to stop disinformation and so called hybrid information.

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East Stratcom’s Disinformation Review – February, 13 2017.

February, 13 2017; East Stratcom presented a report on ”pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign” in Scandinavia. Two Swedish cases were singled out. One was a false personal accusation against a known pro-NATO journalist. This false accusation was posted on a facebook group opposing Western politics in Ukraine and the post was taken away later during the day when administrators noticed it. Months later, the person in question was sentenced in court for libel. This was certainly not part of a campaign, but rather seen as an act against the interest of those questioning Swedish and Western influence in the Ukrainian conflict.

East Stratcom also highlights the acts of another individual who, under the name of Egor Putilov, wrote articles published in Sweden. Putilov started writing articles accusing left activists. This included a political refugee from Russia who had opposed the government and had to flee the country. He was accused of being Putin’s agent. Putilov’s articles accused all left voices that had opposed the Swedish Ukrainian policy and labelled them as Putin’s agents.

Later the same Putilov. sometimes using different names. turned up as being employed by the right wing populist party Swedish Democrats. He now produced articles with the same conspiracy theory methods as he used against those he claimed to be Putin’s agents, but this time he addressed migrant issues in the way which suited the party who employed him inside the parliament building. Putilov was also a Russian refugee and he had written critical articles against the Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad. Putilov also bought a house in Stockholm from a convicted Russian businessman, who was married to a senior figure in the Russian tax authority in Sankt Petersburg and the story goes that Putilov possibly gained huge amounts of money from the affair.

The methods used by Putilov and his connections with a shady Russian business man caused a great alarm in the Swedish parliament and among journalists. Some of those who raised their voices was the same journalists who earlier on had promoted Putilov’s accusations against those voices opposing the Swedish Ukrainian policy as being Putin’s agents. In this case, Putilov himself was portrayed in the same manner he had portrayed others; by guilt by association methods.

East Stratcom Disinformation Digest summarizes: ”Swedish media have reported concerns that Mr Putilov’s access to the parliament posed a major security concern. … This scandal comes after the Digest reported that several security services in Europe have warned of the threat of Russian disinformation activities”.

East Stratcom follows the footsteps of NATO friendly journalists in Sweden which initially, for their own interests, used Putilovs attacks against those who were critical towards the Russian government but at the same time also was critical towards the Ukrainian government. Such persons were, with help of Putilov, accused of being tools for Russian Propaganda. Then, the NATO friendly journalists concealed that Putilov always had been anti-Putin in his writings in order to better attack him for being the ideal person to accuse for being a Putin agent inside the parliament. East Stratcom uses the case of Putilov in the same way. The content of what Putilov writes about Russia and Ukraine is here wiped out of the reader’s attention. Instead of the content, is the methods Putilov uses claimed to be typical of Russian propaganda.

When East Stratcom claims to expose serious Russian propaganda in Sweden they end up with a first case of personal defamation of a journalist seen by few and discarded as soon as the administrators had a chance to take it away. The second case is even more questionable as Putilov was an anti-Putin propagandist causing trouble for the peace opinion, a person who suddenly was useful as the ideal Putin agent, not because of his opinions on Russia, but by his methods. This is McCarthyism and not a serious effort to counteract Russian state disinformation.

While MEPs in the European parliament is, in a mass scale, using disinformation against the public about the current situation in Eastern Ukraine and try to undermine the Minsk II agreement, the East Stratcom produces disinformation about Putin agents in Sweden (and elsewhere) by grossly exaggerating the effects of small incidents or by concealing the actual anti-Putin message made by the accused Russian propaganda maker.

A clearer case of when someone attacks another for what he himself is doing is hard to find. This is an act which is morally and strongly criticised already in the bible. It is about time that the constituencies in the European parliament strongly denounce what has taken place among the MEPs elected to be responsible for the Ukrainian issues. The way they disinform the public and undermine diplomatic efforts is a threat to peace in Europe.

References

Call for action: Save Donbass people – Humanitarian agenda first, political agenda second

Once again, it is very important now that the root causes of the fighting that led to so much suffering are being removed. The humanitarian agenda in this respect should take the front seat. Any political agenda should come second.”

Alexander Hug, Principal Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE SMM,
February, 1 2017

A shift is emerging in the Ukrainian conflict. Under conditions of being besieged by military forces which limits what can be done together with an information blockade, the people of Donbass starts to act. It is crucial to listen to the voices from people in Eastern Ukraine.

We call for international action in support of the people of Donbass and peace in Europe.

We welcome any interest in cooperation to strengthen humanitarian efforts for the civilian victims of the war in Donbass, to expose the systematic violation of human rights in Ukraine, to widen the social, ecological, economic and international policy frameworks for the Ukrainian crisis, and to generally strengthen efforts for peace.

We also call for support against oppression of voices of peace and for the environment in Sweden and elsewhere.

International appeal from DNR and LNR

Escalated violence triggered Denis V. Pushilin (DPR’s envoy for the trilateral contact group in Minsk and chairman of the People’s Council in DPR) and Vladimir N. Degtjarenko (chairman of the People’s Council in LPR) to issue an appeal to the Russian, the US and the German leaders already on January, 31 2017.

“We ask you to stop Ukraine and compel Poroshenko to cease criminal actions against Donbass people. Make Poroshenko stop shooting civilians and lift the economic blockade. It must be done before it is too late. Prevent great trouble before an environmental and humanitarian disaster occurs in our land.”

Soon the articulated aims of number of signatures in support of the appeal were surpassed. Several hundreds of thousands signatures have been collected in support of this appeal to end the war and the terrible conditions people in Donbass are living under. More signatures are, with the help of social organisations, gathered every day.

This appeal is also, in solidarity, supported by the people in different countries in Europe and worldwide.

Background – Escalated violence, DPR-controlled Donetsk water filter station and negotiations in Minsk

The escalated violence between Ukrainian forces and those who belong to DPR and LPR. kills civilians and destroys vital infrastructure due to the pickets being far too close to each other along the contact line. In parallel, the national dialogues hosted by OSCE in Minsk have for a long period of time turned out to be difficult.

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Press conference with ambassador Martin Saydik – Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group – in Minsk February, 1 2017.
Picture through БелаПАН

February, 1 was however a joint statement made for the Avdeeveka-Yasinovata-Donetsk Airport triangle as well as along the whole line of contact. It calls for strict adherence to full and comprehensive cessation of fire, withdrawal by February, 5 2017 of armaments regulated by Minsk agreements, safe and secure access for OSCE SMM to fulfill their mandate and also facilitation of humanitarian efforts aimed at restoration of electricity and heating supplies including through repair of (vital) infrastructure.

The trilateral contact group met again February, 15. Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office to the trilateral contact group; ambassador Martin Saydik told the press that consent was reached regarding the statement from February, 1. The new deadline was February, 20 and Sajdik told that the escalation of the conflict was also to be the theme of the next meeting in the Normandy format.

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Foreign Ministers of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin, France Jean-Marc Ayrault, Russia Sergey Lavrov and Germany Sigmar Gabriel pose for a photograph during the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany on February, 18 2017.
Photo: Reuters/Sven Hopp

After an invitation from the German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel, the Normandy format on February, 18 held a meeting on the side-lines of the Munich security conference. During a joint press conference of the four foreign ministers, a statement in support of the trilateral groups statements was made. Also here, February, 20 was given as the deadline for withdrawal of armaments.

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Dontesk water filtration station in Yasinovata.
Photo: OSSE SMM

As a result of escalations in the Avdeeveka-Yasinovata-Donetsk Airport triangle, the DPR-controlled Donetsk water filtration station (DFS) has due to shelling been put out of order several times during the last months. This has affected both sides of the contact line. The security situation continued to worsen and employees spent a lot of time in bomb shelters during ongoing shelling. February, 24, the management decided to stop work and evacuate all employees.

An extraordinary video conference was held the day after, on February, 25. Besides the trilateral contact group, also representatives from certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions (i.e. DPR and LPR) as well as the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC) and the Chief Monitor of OSCE SMM participated. An agreement was reached to undertake every effort to immediately ensure safe and secure access for repair teams so that full operability of DFS would be restored as soon as possible. Agreements was also made for secure access to be guaranteed to the DFS employees, which on a daily basis supply water to over half a million people on both sides of the line of contact. Further, OSCE SMM was again to be ensured safe and secure access to the area in order to enable its members to facilitate and monitor the repair works and the ceasefire in general. Details for implementing ceasefire and withdraw weapons was to be discussed during next meeting on March, 1.

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Statement by the Trilateral Contact Group and the Representatives from certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions calling for ceasefire – February, 1 2017.

After another round of negotiations in Minsk, ambassador Martin Sajdik held a press conference March, 1 where he reminded of the statement made February, 1 with protection of civilian population and critical infrastructure. He said that special attention was paid to the performance and safety of DFS, which is significantly damaged as a result of hostilities and this had been discussed by the working group on Security issues as well as in the trilateral contact group including during the extraordinary video conference on February, 25. Based on a proposal of the Chief Monitor of OSCE SMM, ambassador Ertugul Apakan, the parties agreed on no shelling or other attack of the DFS, demining of the DFS area and its access roads and security guarantees (facilitated by JCCC) in order to enable safe, secure and unfettered access for the DFS staff, repair teams and the SMM.

Ambassador Sajdik also told that the parties reaffirmed their commitment to fully withdraw heavy weapons and that dilution of forces near Lugansk was scheduled for March, 7. The Working group on Economic Issues was reported to further have discussed the water supply in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions as well as protection of infrastructure objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population.

Call for international action in support of the people of Donbass, in support of peace in Europe and in support of peace and environmental organisations in Sweden and elsewhere

We call upon all peace and humanitarian movements to address the calls from peoples on the ground. Together we can address this before the humanitarian and environmental situation worsens even more.

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Information leaflet from Activists for peace January, 19 2017.
Source: Activists for peace

In Sweden, we launched a campaign on January, 19 which marks three years since our government issued its annual foreign policy statement. The use of violence was denounced in relation to the Ukrainian conflict in 2014. Instead, the Ukrainian government was advised to, together with the opposition, seek a political solution out of the crisis. After the new pro-western government was installed three days later, Sweden changed its foreign policy and started to ignore the use of violence against the opposition. This includes ignorance in relation to the civilian victims which are the result of the war against the rebellion in Donbass; a war initiated by the Ukrainian government in April 2014. This is done by the Swedish government which often portrays itself as giving importance to humanitarian issues and promotes conflict resolution. In this case it is not so. Read more in Donbass and Swedish Ukrainian policy.

In NGOs and state funded research trying to silence peace voices in Sweden, you find a description of the way that state funded NGOs as well as main stream media, business think tanks and research institutes have joined forces to suppress opposition against the Swedish Ukrainian policy. The human rights NGOs PEN Sweden, Ordfront (In English: Word front) and Östgruppen för demokrati och mänskliga rättigheter (In English: The East group for democracy and human rights) have not, after the installation of a new Ukrainian government in February 2014 until the beginning of 2017, put forward any specific case among all the systematic violations of human rights that has taken place in Ukraine. During the same period, Ordfront and Östgruppen took part in a campaign to question a French documentary about extreme right fascist violence in Ukraine. Thus, these NGOs not only ignore human rights violations in Ukraine but also actively oppose that others expose and express concerns of this to the public.

In Sweden, any opposition to the Swedish Ukrainian policy as well opposition against closer ties to NATO are met by demonization; not only as promoters of Russian politics, but also allegedly as Putin´s personal agents. Until today, this reached a climax in January 2017 when researchers at The Swedish Institute of International Affairs published an article in an international journal where they labelled peace organizations, conspiracy theorists, environmentalists as well as right and left wing extremists together with the cultural section of the biggest daily in Sweden, to be proponents of a Russian narrative. It’s a harsh debate climate.

We welcome any interest in cooperation to;

  1. strengthen humanitarian efforts for the civilian victims of the war in Donbass,
  2. expose the systematic violation of human rights in Ukraine,
  3. widen the social, ecological, economic and international policy frameworks for the Ukrainian crisis, and
  4. generally strengthen efforts for peace.

We also call for support against oppression of voices of peace and for the environment in Sweden and elsewhere.

Our organisation – Activists for peace – and our campaign

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Our organisation – Aktivister för fred (In English: Activists for peace) – cooperates with several other peace and EU-critical organisations. We are always open for new cooperation.

We publish Ukrainabulletinen (In English: Ukraine bulletin), have a Swedish blog, an English blog and a Facebook-page.

We are organising a campaign during spring 2017 for fundraising to civilian victims of the war in Donbass and to expose the systematic violence against human rights in Ukraine. The main action day will be May, 2 when three years have passed since the Odessa massacre.

The launch of our campaign was made with support of, for example, the following material:

  1. Björk, Drake, Gahrton, Wechselmann: Stop the humanitarian crisis in Eastern Ukraine. 
Article published in Svenska Dagbladet Debatt, February, 19 2017 in relation to the launch of Activists for peace’s campaign.
    Original text in Swedish: Svenska Dagbladet Debatt and Aktivister för fred. The text is also available in Russian (PDF-format) and in English (PDF-format).
  2. Declaration of the Presidents of the People’s Councils of DPR and LPR – Denis V. Pushilin and Vladimir N. Degtyarenko.
    An appeal from Denis V. Pushilin (DPR’s  envoy for the trilateral contact group in Minsk and chairman of the People’s Council in DPR) and Vladimir N. Degtjarenko (chairman of the People’s Council in LPR) to the Russian, the US and the German leaders.
    This appeal is supported by the ongoing petition campaigns in DPR and LPR as well as elsewhere.
    Original text in Russian (PDF-format). The text is also available in English (PDF-format) and in Swedish (PDF-format).
  3. A leaflet for Activists for Peace’s campaign for fundraising to civilian victims of the war in Eastern Ukraine (In Swedish). 
    This is support for the Swedish humanitarian aid organisation Sankt Georgsbandet (In English: Ribbon of Saint George).
    Since the start in November 2014, Sankt Georgsbandet has distributed more than 20 000 Euros. The distribution has been mainly to LPR, but distribution have also taken place in DPR and in Slavyansk (controlled by the Ukrainian government).

Further reading

Donbass and Swedish Ukrainian policy.

NGOs and state funded research trying to silence peace voices in Sweden.

NGOs and research trying to silence peace voices in Sweden

Note: Portions of this text are published as separate posts. Observe the links to read the full text.

In Sweden and many other places elsewhere in the West, there are forces in the society that have been suppressing a free discussion about the Ukrainian crisis. In Sweden, our efforts to use our right of freedom of expression have been met by a wide range of methods to silence opposition against the Ukrainian crisis policy of Sweden.

Opposing peace initiatives is a way to promote closer relationship with NATO

From the very start of the Ukrainian conflict, forces in the Swedish society that want closer ties to NATO have been using methods to silence voices for peace. Any attempt to promote constructive solutions to the Ukrainian crisis and dialogue across the front lines between West and East has been stamped as acts in the interest of Russia or very often involving an allegation of “Putin agents.” This smear campaign includes the former international diplomat Hans Blix – a liberal well known after his role as head of the team controlling weapons of mass destruction facilities in Iraq and opposing the war in 2003. It also includes Sven Hirdman – a conservative former Swedish ambassador to Russia – and several former social democratic ministers.

A massive consensus in main stream media has almost on a daily basis, often several times during the same day, presented Russia – frequently personalized by Putin – as a threat against Sweden, peace and the world. The crisis in Ukraine is used as the constant argument why Russia should be regarded as an aggressive part while Sweden is only defender of human rights and international order.

The state funded NGO ABF stopped an exhibition about Odessa and Donbass

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From a short documentary shown during Swedish exhibitions on Odessa and Donbass, February 2015.

In 2015, a photo exhibition about the Odessa massacre and photos from civilians suffering during the war in Donbass was cancelled by the largest state funded educational organization in Sweden – ABF in Malmö and in Helsingborg.

Read more by following this link.

The Swedish left made itself passive

The left has allowed itself to be silenced about the Ukrainian conflict by a state funded anarcho-syndicalist newspapers and NGOs. While the Odessa massacre sparked a wide interest in different Swedish left-wing circles, several Swedish neo-Nazi activists went to Ukraine to take part in the war against Donbass in volunteer battalions. This interest among leftists was quickly undermined and turned into passivity.

Read more by following this link.

State funded Swedish NGOs turn a blind eye to systematic violations of human right

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The Swedish NGOs that don’t see, don’t hear and don’t speak.
Source: Aktivister för fred.

The NGOs Östgruppen för demokrati och rättigheter and Ordfront also systematically together with PEN Sweden, silenced any knowledge from their websites about the systematic violations of human rights in Ukraine while, together with hundreds of cases in Russia, violations against human rights in DPR and LPR as well as Crimea gets extensive coverage by these organizations.

There is not a single case from Ukraine reported since the overthrow of Yanukovych in February 2014 until 2017. This is silenced while presidential candidates were violently attacked several times, four opposition parties got their offices stormed by the right-wing extremists, their membership register stolen or were stopped from acting openly by other means. Also, secret prisons are run by the Ukrainian security police and mass murder takes place with the consent of the government.

NGOs act against a documentary exposing fascist violence in Ukraine

Read more by following this link.

Egor Putilov becomes useful again during summer 2016

There are many outlandish “too good to be true” stories in the way Swedish mainstream media and politicians tried to silence the Swedish peace opposition. One of the most outlandish is the way Egor Putilov has been used by these stories several times. First, he was used as a journalist in the left-wing media and the biggest daily exposing “pseudo” left activists who, as he put it, was controlled by Putin. That those accused by Putilov as Sachnin who is a political refugee from Russian Left front are in opposition to Putin in close cooperation with equally oppositional Borotba party in Ukraine is no to be taken into consideration.  As long  as, they were critical against the new government in Ukraine, they were portrayed as nothing less then Putin’s agents. This is a message well received by many mainstream media journalists, and especially those promoting Swedish-NATO membership.

 

Read more by following this link.

The Swedish Institute for International Affairs research scandal

Could it be worse? Yes, it could. On the January, 5 2017, Martin Kragh and Sebastian Åsberg at the Swedish Institute for International Affairs, one of them also at the Uppsala University, published an article in an international journal of strategic studies. The title was ”Russia’s strategy for influence through public diplomacy and active measures: the Swedish case

Read more by following this link.

Summary

Different actors in Sweden constitute a powerful tool, by means which are questionable in a democratic culture. They have been stopping or marginalizing the opposition against the Swedish-Ukrainian policy and a foreign policy moving Sweden closer and closer to NATO and its key member nations.

Some, like researchers at the Swedish Institute for International Affairs and a journalist at Expressen, acts in interplay with each other. Others, without necessarily knowing of each other’s motives or relationships, are also active. The fact that several of these actors are state funded does not necessarily mean they are acting together. The combined effect is still there. By using their overwhelming amount of resources of paid work and well-funded influential institutions they bias the foreign policy discussions. Certain issues such as the fascist violence and systematic violations of human rights in Ukraine are turned into taboo issues. Meanwhile those trying to create a democratic discussion are demonized as agents of a foreign country, quite often derogatorily portrayed as personal servants to the Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The high level of obfuscation among the different roles for actors in the media, research institutions, state funded educational organisations, NGOs, business funded think-tanks and security authorities is worrisome. The way Expressen’s journalist Olsson tries to hide the fake research about the Crimean meeting is not acceptable in a democratic country. The trust for how media and research is supposed to be built on specific rules for criticism of the sources used and evaluation of their relevance is central. In this case, these certain rules are instead used to maximize the sensation by an interplay between research discourse and journalistic discourse enabling character assassinations of those standing up in the opposition to Swedish foreign policy.

This is also happening at an international level. It is carried out by old and new institutions such as the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence (NATO StratCom) – a centre also supported by Sweden – and East Stratcom which is set up by EU to disorient criticism against EU and NATO. They use the alleged Russian disinformation and misinformation and this makes the situation more dangerous. The Swedish research paper paid by the Swedish Institite for International Affairs and Uppsala University is used as a final scientific proof to legitimize the claim that Russia is secretly intervening in an undemocratic way into other countries. This shows how a Western narrative building on a fake scientific publication is contributing to a replacement of an open public debate with produced enemy images both within and between societies.

The speed with which this is done causes concern. Claims have so far been made in many countries that a systematic interference takes place, but scientific research based on case studies to put light on the central actors and their interplay in a whole country have so far been missing. The Swedish study has been downloaded more than 30 000 times and this shows the great interest for and the influence of the article. It is used to legitimize claims stating there is a serious Russian threat which is said to be helped by domestic supporters of a Russian narrative. Thus, it is used for showing the need to rearm Western countries. It undermines efforts to find conflict resolutions and is damaging to European and world peace. This is contrary to what is needed; negotiations with Donbass and, not to talk about, efforts to build solidarity across the divide at state level and replacement of aggression with peace initiatives.

The extreme lack of quality and even outright fake content in the report from the Swedish Institute for International Affairs as well as the interplay with Expressen to maximize the damage against the accused is an opportunity to challenge the way peace movements in Europe are silenced. Mistakes in the so-called research publication and the subsequent article in Expressen building upon the background material of the first are so grave that it is hard not to avoid laughing at the pretentious way the authors present their material.

Assessing the way pro-peace sentiment has been suppressed in Sweden and demonized by a combination of several active measures could inspire comparisons with what is going on in other countries. The way this suppression of peace voices has been carried out by different actors who claim to be the main protectors of free speech in Sweden and human rights everywhere is a lesson as important in Sweden as elsewhere. So is the growing conflation between business sponsored think-tanks, state security interest, top level politicians, research centers and media.

It is about time that people’s movements come together and refuse to be used as pawns in state security games. The Swedish case since 2014 show attempts to silence the pro-peace voices with the article as a climax. This can be both a serious and a humoristic example for others to wake up and act. The far-reaching claim built on fake science to produce a caricature of the peace opinion tells us more about the authors then the accused. Both interplaying researchers and journalists succumb to an outdated guilt by association method having nothing to do in neither a scientific method or serious journalism. When the British defense minister recently used the Swedish study to make a point, it shows the weakness of those that focus on creating enemy images wherever they look.

They will not succeed. The consensus-oriented Sweden has produced a scandal research article and a tabloid scoop that shows that the emperor is naked. His clothes are tailored by NGOs, think-tanks, the most prestigious research institute, a highly-regarded university, mass media, defense authorities, ministers and political party leaders. A country claiming to be interested in peace and conflict resolutions as well as humanitarian aid have shown that the opposite is the case.

We are determined to change that. We are convinced that people in common still think peace and conflict resolutions are more important than rearmament and militarization or demonizing those supporting dialogue and friendship across borders.

We take the accusations against us and the attempts to silence peace opinion in Sweden seriously. At the same time, we have hard time keeping ourselves from laughing. The clash between established research and media institutions claiming a strict adherence to criticism of sources transforms the emptiness of the sensational claims into a great humor. It is hard to ever find in Sweden or elsewhere a so-called scientific article written, within it is own field, by a top-level researcher with so many fake facts and systematic lack of consistent method as well as lack of empirical and theoretical quality.

It is no coincidence that the almost two-hour long podcast made by two academics from Umeå University, who produce the most acknowledged media criticism in Sweden, ended with a laughter. It was at that point, when the scrutiny reached the fact that Kragh and Åsberg had used both Putilov accusations against leftists for being Putin agents as well as the later accusations against himself for being a Putin agent. Journalists who made a big story of Putilov as a significant large Russian threat to the security of Sweden did everything they could to conceal that they, about a year earlier, had spread Putilov’s accusation against others for being Putin agents. Kragh and Åsberg explicitly use contradictory statements linked to Putilov. This regards Putilov’s earlier allegations about others as Putin agents and then, in the second part of the course of events, revelations of himself as a probable Putin agent. Both are regarded as two equally important justifications of Russian infiltration of Sweden. The authors did this by hiding that their source for the first accusation comes from Putilov. They refer to a rewritten article in The Local instead of referring to the original source. This is the reason why the academics from Umeå University cannot stop themselves from laughing.

The silencing of the peace opinion is in Sweden is not necessarily well organized. Clearly it is very effective. At the surface, it looks very homogenous and orchestrated. It is quite clear from several cases that the group of anonymous journalists, researchers and others who, according to Kragh, have been observing the main actors trying to challenge the Swedish foreign policy towards Ukraine and Russia are acting coherently.

Yet it can also be seen that there is no total coherence. Stefan Olsson, a prominent founder of the business think tank Frivärld (In English: Free world) and a writer in main stream media on defense issues, has opposed others within the inner circle when they questioned the Odessa massacre that was viewed as a mere extension of street violence provoked by pro-Russian forces. He instead claimed more correctly that it was an attack by a right-wing mob against the people hiding in the house of trade union. The moral guilt of the attackers committing the mass murder is clearly stated.

In this case, Olsson did not participate in the attempts of others to turn the event into the opposite, as an act that those killed in the house of trade union brought it about on themselves. Olsson has written a book about Russian influence in Sweden. According to him the fascist influence in Ukraine is grossly overrated by voices opposing the Swedish foreign policy. In parallel, Olsson’s diverts from the mainstream Ukrainian version of the Odessa events. This shows that there is no consistent homogeneous narrative that is orchestrated from behind.

The same can be said about silencing the public opinion. Ukrainian organizations with the support of the local newspaper tried to stop a piano concert by world famous Ukrainian Valentina Lisitsa, who is accused of tweeting anti-Ukrainian propaganda. They were ignored by the organisers. Attacks were also made against a speech about Swedish foreign policy in the state funded Folkets hus (In English: The People’s house) in Karlskrona. This is yet another organisation that is supposed to support the freedom of speech and provide localities for doing so. These attempts at silencing an opinion were also ignored. The speech was given in spite of that the speaker had quite opposing views from the local social democrats in charge of the localities. The local papers aggressively questioned the speaker, but there were also extensive letters sent to the editor defending the speaker. The actual article about the speech was an unbiased traditional journalism.

The main trend has been to silence the opposition either by refusing it from having a voice in a wider public discourse or by belittling of those that have been able to raise their voice. In general, all the Swedish peace movements have been under attack or systematically ignored.

But the inner core of journalists, researchers and others that have been organising the most malignant attacks against the opposition is not all the time fully supported by the very many that follow the consensus mentality so prominent in Sweden. This has been clearly demonstrated in the case of the article by Åsberg and Kragh. Here also main critics of Russia have stood up claiming that the accusations have gone to far. Yet, this defense of the opposition has been mainly limited to journalists while activists accused has not received the same support.

What especially stands out in the Swedish case is the way PEN Sweden, Ordfront and Östgruppen för demokrati och mänskliga rättigheter systematically have been ignoring human right violations in Ukraine. Ordfront and Östgruppen have even actively opposed that a documentary about these abuses and about fascist violence in Ukraine would be screened without interference from the kind of expertise they themselves represent. Ordfront and Östgruppen is a disgrace to the support of universal human rights in Sweden and to the international human rights NGO community. They have been stimulating passivity in Sweden in relation to both human rights violations in Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis in Donbass.

That the anti-peace actors have acted so aggressively showing a lack of living up to their own standards of strict adherence to criticism, the importance of research quality as well as journalism quality or NGO advocacy is somewhat a surprise. The coming period will see if they have overreached their influence and will continue their refusal to answer the most serious criticism. An open letter to Östgruppen about their campaign against the French documentary remains unanswered. The same applies to the questioning of how Expressen is hiding fake science in the report from researchers at the Swedish Institute for International Affairs.

Maybe the extreme positions taken by some of the key NGOs, journalists and researchers have come to a point where they cannot be sustained anymore. But then, help is needed also internationally. What are under attack in Sweden are not only Swedish actors but also peace actors, environmental and the social cooperation between many different popular movements with their international connections. Only when the international social movements question the way pro-peace opinion have been silenced by NGOs, mainstream journalists and researchers can the situation substantially be changed.

 

The state-funded NGO ABF stopped an exhibition about Odessa and Donbass

Note: This text is part of the longer text NGOs and state-funded research trying to silence peace voices in Sweden.

In 2015, a photo exhibition about the Odessa massacre and photos from civilians suffering during the war in Donbass was cancelled by the largest state funded educational organization in Sweden – ABF in Malmö and in Helsingborg. In Malmö, this was done without notice and in Helsingborg the public was informed that the already announced exhibition was cancelled. In these cases regarding ABF which prouds itself as a supporter of freedom of speech at home, it was a disgrace to its values.

This is an exceptional thing by European standards. The photos in question have been exhibited in many European countries, but only in Sweden the exhibition was cancelled.

Behind the cancellation of the exhibition were several emails sent to ABF and the municipality in charge of the library where the exhibition was to be presented. The arguments against the exhibition made a false claim that the Russian media never presented any evidence that the Odessa massacre was preceded by violent street clashes in another part of Odessa before the attack on the Trade Union House. The critics of the exhibition sent Internet links to RT and Itar Tass news articles to provide for their case. These links, however, showed that the opposite was the case. They showed that the street fights were mentioned in the Russian mainstream media. In Sweden, however, the facts have been replaced by myths in the interest of the Swedish state and defense interests that are not concerned with dialogue or unbiased information.

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From a short documentary shown during Swedish exhibitions on Odessa and Donbass, February 2015.

Despite the obviously fake claims, ABF cancelled the exhibition. It shows the lack of interest in Sweden by state funded organisations in defending a democratic culture built on free expressions based on facts as opposed to silencing opinion in the interest of supporting enemy images. ABF has listened more to Ukrainian organizations sending emails than one of the survivors of the Odessa massacre, who collected the photos for the exhibition. The Ukrainian argument equated the survivor to an IS terrorist. However, the exhibition was still showed to the public at less central places in restaurants. This had to be done under the police protection as a right-wing extremist who had served in the Ukrainian volunteer battalions were threatening to come to the exhibition if it were to take place.