So far there have been four responses to Integrity Initiative and a new Atlantic Council report in Sweden. They are published by very diverging media. The first is a letter to the editor published in a regional daily Skånska Dagbladet aligned with the Center party, the second in the weekly Internationalen supporting the opposition against Assad in Syria, the third in the blog Hans lilla gröna, run by a Green party member and the fourth Global Politics with pro-Syrian anti-imperialist Anders Romelsjö as editor. In spite of their differences they all bring up empirical material and political background rather than speculating or summarizing the leaks. There is also no direct linkage between the four media platforms making it seemingly weak – or the opposite if each one can find allies and avoid disputes with each other on this specific point.
The authors also use the specific political position Sweden has as a non-member of NATO. This makes statements as NATO’s Trojan Horses having a stronger resonance than in countries that are formally members. They are also all personally addressing experience making it easier to understand that what happens is daily life experiences for people, not something going on in computers far away. Integrity Initiative and Atlantic Council are part of governmental efforts together with private actors influencing our daily lives targeting messages and people they do not agree with openly and in secret. This makes the public debate biased and can also threaten people not to express their opinion.
I and several known and unknown Swedes were named as Kremlin’s Agents
Carl Meurling writes in Skånska Dagbladet Opinion December 21, 2018.
Carl Meurling, an investor in Russia, writes December 21, 2018 in Skånska Dagbladet Opinion, a regional daily in the Southern province Scania:
“Two years ago my life changed. The Swedish Institute of International Affairs (UI) then issued a report were I and several known and unknown Swedes were labeled Kremlin Agents… Since then, I have tried to understand why we were outed. My conclusion is that the Swedish foreign administration has partly been privatized by foreign special interests. It is unacceptable and a security risk for Sweden.”
Carl Meurling, December 21, 2018
Meurling also brings to light that according to the data leaks about the Integrity Initiative the person to be responsible for the Swedish part of the project would be UI’s Russia expert. He concludes: ”Thus, a tax-financed part of Sweden’s foreign administration has an employee who at the same time works for the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs to influence Swedish politics via an anonymous front organization!”
Emma Lundström writes in the weekly Internationalen December 21, 2018.
Nordic clusters are led by no less than Martin Kragh.
The journalist Emma Lundström writes December 21, 2018 more bluntly in the weekly Internationalen: ”Integrity Initiative’s Nordic clusters are led by no less than Martin Kragh… The fact that a Swedish academician serves as coordinator for the Nordic section of Integrity Initiative is quite startling. That it is Martin Kragh may not be equally surprising to those who have followed his actions for some time. He has the habit of blackening political opponents.”
NATO’s Trojan Horses
Hans Wåhlberg writes on his blog December 16, 2018.
The Green Blogger Hans Wåhlberg goes much further in a blog post from December 16, 2018. To him it is important to point at how different actors work closely together in cohort due to their privileged resources and access to media. He starts by looking into the report “The Kremlin’s Trojan Horses 3.0” with a chapter about Sweden entitled: “Sweden – Fertile Soil for Influence OPS?” published December 3, 2018. The chapter is written by one Henrik Sundbom, who is a “fellow” at the Swedish think tank Stockholm Free World Forum (In Swedish: FriVärld), who has close cooperation and exchange with the Atlantic Council.
The report does not only focus upon the normal suspects but also puts much emphasis on the Green party. Wåhlberg also quotes the report: “Support for the Kremlin is stronger in the independent green movement, which overlaps more with the Swedish peace movement than with the Green Party itself“.
After examining several details Wåhlberg describes the content as ”pure conspiracy theory or guilt by association, perhaps on the verge of libel in the case of names mentioned” and ends with: ”Atlantic Council says it wants to reveal to the world, and make it aware of Russian troll farms and Russian disinformation (fake news). They do this by producing their own fake news. The whole thing might be comical or in any case not worth noting if it were not for the power this think tank possesses.” He finds it appropriate to name such an organization a Trojan Horse of NATO.
Who are they? Wåhlberg asks himself when looking into the Integrity Initiative program ”according to which they will form clusters of “friendly journalists” and key influencers in different European countries to fight against Russian propaganda and false news.”
He asks if ”possibly the above mentioned Sundbom is one of them?” in the Swedish cluster. Then he also asks if Martin Kragh, who in his article the previous year, raised much of what Sundbom speculates in the Atlantic Council report, also belongs to the cluster. ”Kragh’s article certainly failed as scientific work and drew strong criticism from both newspapers and colleagues, but it has not prevented Sundbom from spinning on the same material. Sundbom and Kragh have also worked together earlier and this year, among other things, published a report for The Swedish Institute of International Affairs (“Resilience Against Influence Operations in the Eastern Partnership Countries“).”
“There can be no other explanation than that it is part of a long-term campaign to discredit the peace movement with the aim of later turning the still NATO-negative Swedish public opinion. One way is then to describe NATO resistance only as a result of Kremlin’s propaganda or as something that is driven solely by the Kremlin’s agents.
Kragh admittedly recognized when he was pressured by Aftonbladet “the basic democratic right to have one’s own opinion on Swedish security policy”. But despite this, the campaign against the peace movement continues from new writers who appear in new forms. The nasty thing is that it also takes place in partially hidden forms where institutions with ties to the United States and NATO collect information about the opinions of individuals and produce material where they are discredited.”
Hans Wåhlberg, December 16, 2018
Thanks God they are rightly criticizing me.
Anders Romelsjö writes on the Global Politics blog December 9, 2018.
The antiimperialist blogger Anders Romelsjö:
“Atlantic Council is closely associated with individuals and agencies in the deep state of the United States, having good relations with the White House. It aims to strengthen the alliance between the United States and Europe, and is an important pillar of NATO. It has been involved in all US political and military war adventures over the past 50 years and has been working for decades to cover for CIA sponsored subversive operations, killings and political manipulations in all corners of the world. It is, of course, sponsored by powerful forces such as arms manufacturers, oil companies and other major business interests, as well as receiving funding from more than 25 US-friendly governments around the world.
Now Atlantic Council has drawn attention to me and the blog! Thanks God they are rightly criticizing me. Praise would have made me quit, and consider jumping into a lake.”
Anders Romelsjö, December 9, 2018
Anders Romelsjö also posted two articles on Integrity Initiative.
December 2, 2018 he wrote that Martin Kragh was ”a cluster coordinator” for Nordic Studies in the Integrity Initiative including reposting a longer critical analysis on Kragh’s article on Russian disinformation in Sweden.
December 3, 2018 he writes about Swedish names in the Integrity Initiative material based on an article published on the blog Moon of Alabama.
Activists for peace
- Lundström, Emma: Brittisk trollkvarn med svensk anknytning (Translation to English: British Troll Farm with Swedish connections), Internationalen, December 21, 2018.
- Meurling, Carl: Sveriges Rysslandspolitik styrs utifrån (Translation to English: Sweden’s Russian policy is controlled from outside the country), Skånska Dagbladet Opinion, December 21, 2018
- Romelsjö, Anders: Sverige deltar i Storbritanniens hemliga program för att svartmåla Ryssland. Vilka svenskar? (Translation to English: Sweden participates in the UK’s secret program to scandalize Russia. Which Swedes?),Global Politics blog, December 2, 2018.
- Romelsjö, Anders: Desinformation av rysk desinformation av Martin Kragh, samordnare i Integrity Initiative (Translation to English: Disinformation of Russian disinformation by Martin Kragh, coordinator in the Integrity Initiative), Global Politics blog, December 3, 2018.
- Romelsjö, Anders: Mäktigaste Nato-siten Atlantic Council uppmärksammar mig och min blogg. Smickrande? (Translation to English: The most powerful NATO site Atlantic Council pay attention to me and my blog. Flattering?) Global Politics blog, December 9, 2018.
- Wåhlberg, Hans: NATOS:s trojanska hästar (Translation to English: NATO’s Trojan Horses), Hans lilla gröna blog, December 16, 2018.