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 In Sweden, however, the facts have been replaced by myths in the interest of the Swedish state and defense interests that are not concerned with dialogue or unbiased information.


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.


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