“The ex-Soviet countries have gone through a Morgenthau plan. They need to industrialize”.
“The ex-Soviet countries have gone through a Morgenthau plan. They need to industrialize”.
In the autobiography of the Russian – or Ukrainian – author Konstantin Paustovsky, there is a relation of how the city of Odessa defeated the blockade of an Allied navy in the wake of the First World War and the Russian Civil War in 1920, with exclusively peaceful methods:
If the weeks and months of the blockade could seem peaceful and untroubled to a part of the population, this was only because it knew nothing of what was happening outside the town. In reality, the situation was grim and the new administration had need of all its resourcefulness and self-reliance to cope with the danger to the city.
After the flight of Denikin’s main army, a force of some seventy thousand of his officers and men had been left behind and were concentrated in the various German settlements – Liebenthal, Lustdorf, Marienthal – on the outskirts of the town.
The Allies relied on them to promote an uprising in Odessa, which they on their side would then support with artillery fire from their ships.
Apart from this, there were, at a conservative estimate, some two thousand bandits, burglars, thieves, forgers, fences and the shady characters living in the suburbs of Moldavanka, Bugayevka, Slobodka-Romanovka and Inner and Outer Mills.
Their mood was uncertain. As a general rule, bandits tend to be hysterical and unstable in their attachments. No one could tell what they would do if there were an uprising.
There were very few Soviet troops in Odessa. Meanwhile and Allied squadron was already cruising offshore, having sent the Italian mine sweeper Raccia ahead on reconnaissance.
But an event took place which sharply changed the situation. The Raccia struck a mine when it was beam-on to the Great Fountain lighthouse. All we heard of it in town was the faint echo of an explosion at sea, which alarmed no one.
By order of the Provincial Committee, fishermen from Golden Shore, Great Fountain, the Kovalevsky estate and Lustdorf – all experienced and level headed men – went out in their barges, picked up the survivors and the bodies of the dead, and brought them ashore before the squadron had had time to reach the scene of the shipwreck.
The bodies of the dead were taken to Odessa, and a signal was sent to the Commander of the squadron. It informed him that the city was grieved by the disaster and wished to assume the burden of a solemn funeral for the gallant victims, and it invited him to attend the ceremony and to send sailors’ units to form a guard of honour.
The admiral agreed – there was not much else he could do.
Next morning, unarmed Soviet soldiers and sailors formed up all along the way from the post to Kulikov Field where a common grave had been dug. Mourning flags hung on all the houses, and the way was strewn with flowers and branches of thuya.
A hundred thousand Odessans – almost the entire population at that time – attended the funeral.
Dock workers carried the coffins. After them came sunburnt Italian sailors, rifles pointing down.
The bands of the foreign ships played, as well as the combined Odessa bands. Ours did not disgrace itself, and the heart-rending strains of Chopin’s Funeral March made the sensitive Odessan women wipe away the tears with their shawls.
The bells toiled mournfully from New Athos Church. The roofs were black with watching crowds.
Speeches were made at the grave. The Italians listened and presented arms. Then the distant sound of a salvo at sea mingled with that of a volley of rifle-shots on Kulikov field. A pyramid of flowers rose over the grave.
After the funeral the foreign sailors were given supper at the former Frankoni café. Comrade Agin [chief of the rationing board] dipped into the sacred food reserve for the occasion, and used up most of it.
After such a funeral, how could there be any question of bombardment or of uprising? The sailors of the foreign shops would not have stood for it. They were grateful for the honour paid their fallen comrades and for the warmth of their own reception.
The old admiral (who looked like Giuseppe Verdi) decided that the game was up and ordered the squadron back to Constantinople. It vanished into the gloom of the evening, leaving Denikin’s officers to their fate.
By allowing armed foreign sailors into the town, the provincial Committee had taken a huge risk, but it was an honourable one, and the funeral proved a bloodless victory over the Interventionists.
Soon afterwards, the blockade was lifted, and the first barge loads of apricots sailed into the port from Kherson.
Then, on a cloudless morning, two Turkish feluccas from Skutari, colorful as a picture, tied in at the Quarantine Pier – they were the first cargo ships to reach Odessa.
Next day the papers announced triumphantly that two feluccas had advised from Turkey with a kilo of flints for cigarette lighters, glass beads, gilt bracelets, and a small barrel of olives.
What mattered, of course, was not the kilo of flints, but the fact that the sea was free again. This seemed to me suddenly to alter its appearance: gay under a gusty wind, it shone with such snow-white spray as I had never seen on it before.
Any day now, we would see, in the blue distance to the southwest, the mighty hulls and yellow funnels and strange flags of ocean-going craft, and would hear whistles and rumbling anchor-chains – a sound which promised those who sailed the seas a well-earned rest in a beautiful though foreign land.
Konstantin Paustovsky: Years of hope, 1968
Campaigns carried out against Russian desinformation in Western Europe have received raised concerns lately. They have been accused of smearing the peace movement and opposition to NATO under the pretext of fighting fake news using at times McCarthy methods. These campaigns are carried out by domestic and international forces, by secret or open formal and informal networks or simply by ready-made propaganda disseminated by several sources. NATO and EU, separately or together, the Atlantic Council and several other international initiatives as well as domestic bodies close to government or corporate agencies, have established institutions with many formal and informal links between each other with that purpose. Lately, the semi-secret British Integrity Initiative has received much attention.
In Sweden, this discussion has got a twist of its own, different from other countries and even different from Norway which is a country with an otherwise quite similar political culture. It has also lately won a great deal of interest in two of the biggest dailies of the country followed by sharp controversy in more of main stream media. A discussion fomented during two months especially by the peace movement and members of the Green Party.
It began in late January, when the news section of Aftonbladet, the biggest newspaper, took up the false claims of the Atlantic Council report Kremlin’s Trojan Horses 3.0. The report claimed that the firing of a Green Party senior foreign policy expert was due to frequent contacts with the Russian embassy. The news about the false accusation in the report were soon published by Expressen, Aftonbladet’s closest competitor.
The alarming accusations had not been approved by the Swedish Security Police and has since long been debunked by mass media. The author, Henrik Sundbom, a fellow of an NGO sponsored by the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise allowed himself to anyway to use the false information. It was strongly criticized by people in the environmental and peace movement together with several other attempts at defaming the environmental and peace movement. One example given by Sundbom to prove his case that those he accused was pro-Russian in their views was an article in a Swedish environmental magazine that explicitly stated that what happened on Crimea was a break of international law. In the twisted mind this was turned into the opposite in the Atlantic Council report. But the criticism was also directed against the Green leadership for its compliant behavior; however it declared the issue a matter of staff policy and thus of private, non-public nature. The McCarthy kind of blacklisting in practice could so far have its way.
In 2017 a similar criticism of the peace movement for being interlocutors of the Russian narrative had been put forward by Martin Kragh in an article written together with Sebastian Ågren, both associated to the Swedish Institute for International Affairs, published in the British magazine Journal of Strategic Studies. The article was strongly rejected by several people – see a hundred links at https://activistsforpeace.wordpress.com/2019/01/06/swedish-disinformation-research-controversy-links/ – who saw it as a McCarthyist campaign. He was defended by his colleagues at the Uppsala university but not by other academicians. Also Henrik Sundbom is associated to Swedish Institute for International Affairs and has cooperated closely with Martin Kragh publishing a report together in 2018.
Martin Kragh’s name appeared in the hacked material from the Integrity Initiative documents as a cluster leader for the Nordic countries This was brought up by some bloggers and a newspaper. As in 2017 Kragh did not respond to allegations or criticism except when bigger media made it necessary. This was the case a few hours before the criticism against his colleague Henrik Sundbom would go into print which there is reason to believe he knew. Then Martin Kragh stated on twitter that he had declined the offer from Integrity Initiative in 2016 of being Scandinavian ”cluster leader”. However, material to the article in Journal of Strategic Studies was, according to Kragh himself on the Swedish Radio in 2017, gathered by an anonymous group of ”journalists, researchers and others” during ”a long period”. Who belonged or belong to this group remains unknown. The material was also used for a sensational attack on Kremlin bootlickers in Expressen as if an information war against the peace movement was of acute necessity.
The following week a sharp quarrel burst out between the culture editors of Aftonbladet and Expressen. Åsa Linderborg at Aftonbladet questioned the role of Martin Kragh, head of the Russian program studies at Uppsala University, and asked for an inquiry into his role as alleged ”cluster leader” for the Integrity Initiative in the Nordic countries. The same day, Aftonbladet published a long feature article raising concerns regarding the biggest morning newspaper Dagens Nyheter’s publishing of a character assassination of a Russian oppositional journalist. He had attended a course in journalism in Sweden which was by the newspaper used to falsely present him as a Kreml agent.
The following day, Aftonbladet’s article was criticized by Expressen, owned by the same publishing house as Dagens Nyheter. The call for inquiring the role of Kragh was called ”disgusting”, another journalist that brought up the issue himself was accused as an ”impostor” and the article about character assassination was denigrated because one of the journalists behind it is has a father accused of being an antisemite. Thus, Expressen was able to bring together several different discussions usually kept apart. This hopefully should make ti possible to address character assassination as a method used by Kragh, Integrity Initiative and Dagens Nyheter alike. Only the Atlantic Council was kept out of the picture.
The week that followed in the middle of February saw even more main stream media attention. The conservative morning daily Svenska Dagbladet used all it had, guest editorial, cultural editorial, 9 professors in a letter to the editor, a feature article and finally an editorial, all giving the same view that what was going on was a Russian desinformation campaign against Martin Kragh started already in 2017. Swedish Radio and other newspapers followed suit. A Center party paper set the record with an editorial with 28000 characters describing in detail with names on persons and organization anyone that was involved in the claimed Russian desinformation campaign against Martin Kragh. What the article lacked was Russian sources except the liberal Nova Gazeta. The 150 other articles or so addressing the quality of Kraghs article and his role were Swedish apart from some positive in English the Guardian and similar publications.
The attempts to put all the attention on an alleged Russian desinformation campaign against Martin Kragh will not work. The Atlantic Council will also continue to be of interest, despite attempts to keep it out of the picture, as it is a relevant case highlighting the personal consequences of the McCarthyist campaigns. Furthermore, the allegations against so many in the peace movement for not having its own voice and only being the mouthpiece for Russia, has brought new people and organisations together that never cooperated before. None of these organizations have an influential newspaper or access to mainstream media. But all are used to work under such a condition and are thus resilient against the attempts to silence their voice. The struggle to defend themselves against the repressive Swedish think tanks and main stream media needs to be combined with forward looking demands for peace. Sweden might still bring some surprises to the debate concerning accusations against the peace movements and the Russian desinformation industry with all its interwoven and well funded projects pretending to protect democracy while sometimes doing the opposite.
In most other countries, the discussion has reached a stalemate. Thus it is of interest what happens in Sweden. The discussion in Sweden concerning both the Integrity Initiative and the Atlantic Council is presented at https://activistsforpeace.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/integrity-initiative-and-the-connection-to-sweden-and-atlantic-council and https://activistsforpeace.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/swedish-responses-to-integrity-initiative-and-atlantic-council. Also Norway has had a trajectory very different from other countries. It is presented at https://steigan.no/2019/01/hos-integrity-initiative-and-atlantic-council-is-exposed-in-norway/.
The pattern of contributors in Sweden is very different from the patterns elsewhere. While in most countries those addressing the Integrity Initiative issue belong to the opposition to Western military intervention in Syria and other countries, and are generally leftwing, the critical actors in Sweden have a much broader base. There is also a stronger attempt of linking the Integrity Initiative to similar actors like the Atlantic Council or EU Disinfo and to domestic actors like the Swedish Institute for International Affairs and mainstream media. Who is not the only important matter rather what, how, when and why.
One contribution stands out as it was published in a Social Democratic trade unionist national webmag and is signed by seven people with a background in Friends of the Earth, Activists for Peace, the Green Party, and the Social Democrat party. This kind of collective initiative is not seen in any other country.
The main actor to adress the Integrity Initiative until the quarrel in main stream media started is the peace movement contributing 13 out of 75 responses so far. Also the anti austerity blog Gemensam has published a critical comment. There are also three contributions by present or former Green Party members. Together this makes up 17 contributions.
One contributor is the anti-imperialist blogger Anders Romelsjö with 7 texts. There is also an article at Synapze, a leftwing net magazine. This is a group that usually dominates the debate in other countries. The rest of contributions from the left is a trotskyist weekly, Internationalen, contributing two articles. This newspaper has an Anti Assad view on Syria in sharp contrast to to Romelsjö. Two other left wing bloggers addressed the issue from complete different points of view one being critical towards In total that makes 12 contributions by the left.
Another category are media watch dogs. One of the most appreciated is Mediespanarna, a podcast by two academicians in Umeå that analyzed the new information concerning Integrity Initiative in December. The facebook group Källkritik, fake news and desinformation have posted 7 times commented articles about Integrity Initiative and Atlantic Council. Comments are made of several key actors as the author of the Atlantic Council report and the head of the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB). This makes 8 contributions in this category.
A fourth category is right wing net magazines and bloggers. The first to publish the name of the former foreign policy expert employed by the Greens and falsely alleged Russian security risk was Rebecca Weidmo Uwell. She defended him against the accusations and Atlantic Council. In another right wing net magazine Egor Putilov accused the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) for preparing a crack down on freedom of speech in five articles while also questioning the role of Martin Kragh and Integrity Initiative in two of them. One more right wing net magazine has addressed one part of the growing debate. In total this makes 7 right wing contributors all addressing fairly narrow issues.
Finally the mainstream press. A regional Centerparty paper was the first main stream media to address the issue. They published a letter to the editor highly critical both of Atlantic Council and the Integrity Initiative on 21st of December. It would take a long time until bigger dailies started to write. But then it came, and it came quite a lot. It started on 29th of January in the news section in Aftonbladet, the biggest Swedish daily. Here the focus was upon false claims in the Atlantic Council concerning the Greens. This was followed up in the news section in Expressen, the main competitor. This was followed in Aftonbladet by 3 more stories on the same subject.
The last news article on the Greens and Atlantic Council was published 7th of February the same day as two more articles on Western biased character assassination was published by the cultural section of Aftonbladet as stated above. In one article the whole picture was presented from Atlantic Council to Integrity Initiative and possible Swedish connections. In another the biggest Swedish morning newspaper was criticized for character assassination of a Russian journalist critical towards corruption in his country but presented as a Russian agent while participating in an education for journalism in Sweden. Next day an angry reaction was published in the cultural section of Expressen accusing he competitor of using journalists linked to Julian Assange and that one had a father accused of being an antisemitic. That the role of alleged Integrity Initiative cluster leader in Sweden Martin Kragh was brought to attention was called disgusting. This was followed by 10 more articles in Swedish main stream media debunking the criticism against Kragh and 2 defending the criticism.
An article signed by 10 peace and environmental activists was refused not only by all main stream papers including Aftonbladet opinion section but also ETC, the biggest left wing weekly who together with 5 other red and green weeklies have kept quite throughout the three month debate. It can be added that Aftonbladet has strong internal differences. While the cultural section has been opposed to blaming the peace movement for acting in the interest of Russia, the news section more often than not carry news strongly biased against Russia, the opinion section open to debate have similar bias in this case and the editorial section is also strongly opposing Russia.
In general no qualified dialogue has taken place in Sweden during the long debate. For two months no reaction came against the 4 articles in printed press nor the many on different blogs. Only when Aftonbladet Kultur brought the issue to the public there was what best could be described as an outcry. Expressen allowed short 1500 character reactions to the criticism an article by the cultural editor while the other newspapers refused to publish any answers on their articles.
Oddly or maybe tellingly, the only country were there was a chance for a qualified debate about what happened in Sweden, was in Russia. Here a longer article by Aleksej Sachnin and Johannes Wahlström both living in Sweden was published in the liberal newspaper Nova Gazeta. It was commented by senior public service journalist Stig Fredriksson in an article using 3500 characters which gives enough space for saying something substantial.
Thus the kind of qualified debate necessary for a vital democracy cannot anymore be carried out in Sweden on equal terms in main stream media. It has to use liberal Russian massmedia to be able to keep democracy in Sweden vital.
In general the Swedish debate also differs in the way that much is based on empirical sources bringing up new issues or bringing new light to themes already discussed. There is less articles writing about the same details in similar manner. The few cases when republishing articles is not included in the statistics. Russian media is also almost totally absent from references. Instead, the original leaked sources is often used. There is no Russian media in the Swedish language and thus it is also not helpful for reaching the Swedish public. If Russian media is used for publicizing articles the choice is Nova Gazette in opposition to the government and not RT or Sputnik.
Contrary to Norway were main stream media early on asked people and political parties about both Atlantic Council and Integrity Initiative this did not happen in Sweden until the peace movement, Green bloggers and left wingers had addressed the issue during two months. Also contrary to Norway the accused political parties in the Atlantic Council report have refused to defend themselves. No other organization to the left, center or right reacted either. The only organization that made statements was Activists for peace.
Thus in Sweden the movement had neither the support of political parties or the massmedia. In this way the movement is not in the hands of intermediaries in political parties or journalists in the mass media. A dynamic has emerged concerning the overlapping McCarthyis campaigns against the peace movement including both black listing and character assassination against targeted persons as well as a general stamp on the peace movement for working in the interest of Kreml. If it is enough for changing the power of balance between the peace movement and our opponents that have had a strong hegemony since several years is still to be seen. At the moment main stream media seems overwhelmingly occupied by defending the claims made by Kragh and defame his critics. More than in any other country Integrity Initiative have achieved attention in Swedish main stream media. Seemingly the peace movement has been marginalized further.
In his latest contribution to the debate Martin Kragh stated:
”The operation that I have been exposed to started in Russian media, which claimed that I work for a strange organization with links to the British intelligence service. Everything is false.
But the claims spread further in Sweden, especially by right-wing and left-wing extremist groups, and a bit in social media. In the end, they were picked up by Aftonbladet which made a great deal of it. There you have an example of the entire spectrum of who participates.”
In spite of that one can have some hope that the peace movement can turn this debate among the broader public into questioning of smearing opponents to war there are great obstacle ahead. The overwhelming part of mainstream media is liberal and will probably try hard to marginalize the criticism, and so will also many established groups in society. They do anything to defame the peace movement as not only in the hands of Moscow but also a the core being aligned with right-wing and left-wing extremist groups when defending itself and others against the claims made by Kragh.
• From peace, environmental, and anti-austerity movements, and the Greens: 22,5 %
• From mainstream media: 30,5 %
• From opposing parts of the left: 15,5 %
• From media watchdogs: 11 %
• From Rightwing media: 9%
• From foreign media: 6.5 %
• From NGO and desinformation experts: 5 %
Articles and one podcasts in chronological order
Mathias Cederholm, administrator fbgroup Källkritik, 25 november 2018,
Umer Ramshaid, 27 November 2018, UK’s Integrity Initiative Revelation May Lead To Improvement Of Russia-EU Relations – NGO
Marcello Ferrada de Noli, 27 November 2018, How UK’s Integrity [disinformation] Initiative backfires?
Romelsjö, Anders, 2 December 2019, 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?)
Romelsjö, Anders, 3 December 2019, 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)
Romelsjö, Anders, 9 December 2019, 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?)
Mathias Cederholm, administrator fbgroup Källkritik, 10 december 2018
Erik Linden and Jesper Enbom, 13 December 2019, Mediespanarna #360. Trollkvarnen
Mathias Cederholm, administrator fbgroup Källkritik, 15 december 2018.
Wåhlberg, Hans, 16 December 2018, NATOS:s trojanska hästar (Translation to English: NATO’s Trojan Horses), Hans lilla gröna blog
Lundström, Emma, 21 December 2018, Brittisk trollkvarn med svensk anknytning (Translation to English: British Troll Farm with Swedish connections), Internationalen,
Meurling, Carl, 21 December 2018, Sveriges Rysslandspolitik styrs utifrån (Translation to English: Sweden’s Russian policy is controlled from outside the country), Skånska Dagbladet Opinion
Aktivister för fred, 27 December 2018, The purpose of the Integrity Initiative and what it does – We are all in an ongoing war according to Chris Donnelly, founder and director of The Institute for Statecraft and former NATO advisor
Jan Wiklund, 1 January 2019, Agentvärlden är alltid lika sjuk
Pål Steigan, 5 January 2019, Atlanterhavskomiteen er SVÆRT sparsomme med sannheten (including Swedish connections)
Aktivister för fred, 5 January 2019, Integrity Initiative and the connection to Sweden and Atlantic Council
Aktivister för fred, 5 January 2019, Swedish responses to Integrity Initiative and Atlantic Council
Aktivister för fred, 6 January 2019, Integrity Initiative links from around 40 countries and some Atlantic Council links – Content
Aktivister för fred, 6 January 2019, Swedish Disinformation research controversy – links
Lars Drake, 6 January 2019, Nya exempel på misslyckad antirysk propaganda
Mathias Cederholm, administrator fbgroup Källkritik, 7 January 2019, Den tidigare läckan från det UK-baserade nätverket/tankesmedjan Integrity Initiative (och bakomliggande Institute for Statecraft), fylldes på med ytterligare dokument häromdagen,
Press info 8 januari 2019: Brittisk och amerikansk påverkan skadar demokratin
Bo Sundbäck, Eddie Olsson, Ellie Cijvat,Tord Björk, Hans Wåhlberg, Hans Sternlycke, Per Gahrton, 10 January 2019, Rena McCarthykampanjen mot MP och fredsrörelsen
Tord Björk, 12 January 2019, How Integrity Initiative and Atlantic Council is exposed in Norway
Pål Steigan, 13 January 2019, Integrity Initiative, klynger mot demokratiet (del 4)
Lundström, Emma, 18 January 2019, Skrämselpropagandan från Natos trojanska hästar
Romelsjö, Anders, 23 January, 2019, USA undersöker rysk inblandning i EU
Egor Putilov, 24 January 2019, MSBs interna mejl avslöjar: myndigheten förbereder antidemokratisk kupp
Egor Putilov, 24 January 2019, Demokratins dödgrävare
Egor Putilov, 25 January 2019, AVSLÖJAR: TV4 rådgör med MSB om ”förhållningssätt” i sin rapportering
Rebecca Weidmo Uwell, 25 January 2019, Var är Stålhammar?
Birger Schlaug, 26 January 2019, Den som anklagade ledande miljöpartister för att gå ryska ärenden tillbaka i riksdagen
Activists for Peace, 27 January 2019, Lithuanian repression of protesters against Holocaust denial
Egor Putilov, 28 January 2019, MSB vill få tillgång till avlyssning – ska ”identifiera påverkanskampanjer”
Martin Kragh, 28 January 2019, Twitter: Jag tackade 2016 alltså nej…
Mathias Cederholm, 29 January 2019, FB: Samhällsnytt (f.d. Avpixlat) is a problematic source…
Aktivister för fred, 29 January 2019, Stoppa USA-inspirerade yrkesförbud i Sverige
Olof Svensson, 29 January 2019, Sparkade MP-mannen utpekad på nytt: ”Hade kontakter med ryssar”
Per Lidholm and Filippa Rogvall, 29 January 2019, MP-mannen träder fram: ”Häxprocess”
Olof Svensson, 31 January 2019, Förra språkrörets kritik: ”Passiv tumrullning
Pierre Ringborg, 2 February 2019, Riksdagens mäktigaste politiker heter Pernilla Stålhammar och är huvudkällan i en rapport om Kreml:s trojanska hästar!
Olof Svensson, 3 February 2019, Nu räcker det med dumheter, Fridolin
Aleksej Sachnin and Johannes Wahlström, 5 February 2019, «Вас заставят поменять свое мнение»
Stig Fredriksson, 5 February 2019, Обвинения Мартина Крага — это клевета
Europa Terra Nostra, 5 February 2019, Desinformations-Netzwerk „Integrity Initiative“: Speerspitze im Propagandakrieg gegen Rußland
Olof Svensson, 7 February 2019, MP-toppens kritik: Tjänstemannen har behandlats mycket illa
Mattias Göransson and Johannes Wahlström, 7 February 2019, Spionfabriken på Marieberg
Åsa Linderborg, 7 February 2019, Svenska medier måste hålla rent framför egen dörr
Karin Olsson, 8 February 2019, Aftonbladet ägnar sig åt ren smutskastning
Chang Frick, 8 February 2019, Expressens Karin Olsson rasar mot uppgifter som kan fälla Peter Wolodarski i rätten
Johannes Wahlström, 12 February 2019, ”Olssons text ett klassiskt hafsverk”
Patrick Oksanen, 12 February 2019, Cyberstölden, förtalskampanjen och kulturchefen som tappar fattningen
Hans Wåhlberg, 13 February 2019, Patrik Oksanen – en redaktör som tappat fattningen?
Aleksej Sachnin, 13 February 2019, Karin Olsson är som en bot som hostar upp sörja
Claes Arvidsson, 13 February 2019. De som tar rösten från Kreml vidare som sin egen
Christer Ahlström, 14 February 2019, Angående uppgifter i Aftonbladet
Paul T. Levin, Torbjörn Becker, Li Bennich-Björkman, Dag Blanck, Stefan Hedlund, Matthew Kott, Claes Levinsson, Örjan Sjöberg and Erik Åsard, 14 February 2019, ”Vi står bakom Kragh – ta ryska hotet på allvar”
Lisa Irenius, 14 February 2019, Linderborgs allvarliga anklagelse vilar på mycket svag grund
Lisa Irenius, 14 February 2019, Den typ av anklagelser som nu riktas mot @MartinKragh1 kan leda till att forskare och journalister inte ens vågar närma sig ett så laddat ämne som Ryssland.
Ulrika Knutson, 14 February 2019, Ointresset för Ryssland blir en ond cirkel
Fokus Editorial, 15 February 2019, Ryssligt tjafs
Anders Romelsjö, 15 February 2019, Cyberstölden, förtalskampanjen och Oksanen som tappar fattningen
Tobias Ljungvall, 15 February 2019, Fler bör ta sig i kragen
Lars Drake, 15 February 2019, Patrik Oksanen – en ny Don Quijote
Anders Romelsjö, 15 February 2019, Forskare som backar upp kritiserade Martin Kragh – vanhedrar de kanske seriös forskning?
Mathias Ståhle, 16 February 2019, Så blev svenska medier del i ryskt informationskrig
Anders Romelsjö, 16 February 2019, Mer hård kritik av Martin Kraghs “Rysslands-arbete”
Tobias Hübinette, 16 February 2019, Delar av den svenska vänstern gör alltmer gemensam sak med delar av den svenska högerpopulismen och extremhögern vad gäller att stödja och sympatisera med Putins Ryssland
Olof Ehrenkrona, 17 February 2019, Aftonbladet krattar manegen för Kreml
Åsa Linderborg, 21 February 2019, Martin Kragh är ett demokratiskt problem
Håkan Rhombe, 21 February 2019, Penningtvätten
Egor Putilov, 22 February 2019, Om fascister
Karin Olsson, 23 February 2019, Linderborgs lögner om Kragh slår alla rekord
Martin Kragh, 24 February 2019, Något om Aftonbladets ryska desinformationskampanj
Martin Kragh, 24 February 2019, En strategi i Aftonbladets ryska desinfo-kampanj är att sprida så många olika påhopp på mig som möjligt, för att så tvivel om mig som person och forskare. Här bemöter jag några lögner, och berättar om de ryska högerextremister som backar AB.
Linda Nordlund, 27 february 2019, Martin Kragh: ”Målet är att få mig att sluta forska”
Knut Lindelöf, 27 February 2019, Många ord om mycket lite
Tom Andersson, 27 February 2019, Ovetenskaplig forskning bakom mediekriget
By Dovid Katz
from the Autumn 2017 issue of Jewish Currents
With permission from the author
AMERICA WAS JOLTED this past summer not only by a neo-Nazi event in Charlottesville, Virginia that left an anti-Nazi protester dead by vehicular homicide, but by President Trump’s “blame on both sides” line, which created in America a microcosm of a debate that has been raging for some years in Eastern Europe among historians of World War II and the Holocaust and several Eastern European governments.
The entire Charlottesville debate was over a bogus moral equivalence that Trump drew between American neo-Nazi demonstrators and those who turned out to oppose them. The larger context was about whether those who who fought for slavery and secession in the Civil War are “the same” as those who fought against slavery and for the Union.
Magnify that all a hundred-fold to begin to comprehend what is a major intellectual and political push to contextualize the actual Nazi genocide, the Holocaust, within the Hitlerist “freedom fight” against Soviet Communist domination in Eastern Europe.
Such are our times, in which well-presented postmodernist slop can stultify elementary clarity of thought. In the various cases at hand, different versions of the same bogus moral equivalence strategy of argumentation are used, at a minimum, to make prosaic and palatable that which is inherently beyond the pale, such as state-sponsored public square adulation for those who collaborated in genocide in Eastern Europe (or, indeed, in slavery). Bogus moral equivalence is having a profound and demonstrable effect upon evolving 21st-century perceptions of the Holocaust.
IN NO OTHER GENOCIDE did a mighty state put its government’s resources to work to murder every child, woman, and man of a designated ethnic group, far from its own borders, with no “baptismal” (or other recanting) option for a victim to be spared, and with zero provocation from the victims beyond their being living humans of the group slated for extermination. I had thought, growing up in New York City, that I understood this. But it is only now, after more than a quarter-century of traversing Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, and Ukraine, and meeting the last Yiddish speaker in hundreds upon hundreds of towns, that I have comprehended the Holocaust as a genocide that wiped out an entire living people on its own native territory.
Among my goals has been to catch the tiny number of survivors before they, like all of us, go the way of the world, in the hope of recording their town’s specific Yiddish language, folklore and memories as best as one can from a last, lone survivor. But as I have learned about some of the delightfully exotic local elements of Yiddish from these people, I have learned from them also about the experience of losing all of one’s family, friends, teachers, environments, and cultural and religious universe — in many cases, every single close person of one’s youth — to genocide. I have also learned, in the Baltics and Ukraine, about mass betrayal by neighbors, including many with education and proper prewar careers, with whom Jews had previously lived in peace and harmony.
At the heart of the debate lurks one of the most primal human predispositions, evident in the defenses against all alleged wrongs perpetrated against another, at the personal psychological level and up through the spheres of social, political, societal and international affairs: “But look at what they did to me!” From the kindergarten child explaining a lashing out against a peer to august nations attempting to explain away some alleged misdeed against a minority by recasting it as mere reaction to a nasty provocation, one of the most primary human defenses is the claim of some kind or other of equivalence that is supposed to mitigate or even fully countermand the alleged misdeed, all the more so when the supposed provocation came first. I have heard it countless times in the Baltics: “Look, the Jews were all communists, and the Soviets occupied us before the Nazis invaded!” By this logic, the locals who often initiated carnage against Jews were involved in self-defense.
Never mind that the vast majority of their victims were traditionally religious neighbors, no more involved in Communism than a khosid in Brooklyn would be today.
THE HOLOCAUST REMAINS a daunting obstacle for the most diverse of antisemites (there is much diversity in evil as in good), for it illustrates starkly what antisemitism (or other genres of racism and bigotry) brings to the world — a mind-numbing, largely incomprehensible criminality. That the prime initiators of that worst genocide in human history were highly sophisticated, highly educated folks from a major European nation brings a fright, a diminution of optimism that education and higher culture are somehow reliable brands of insurance against mass atrocity. It is no surprise, therefore, that Holocaust Denial emerged in the second half of the 20th century. Antisemitism could have no meaningful future in mainstream society if the Holocaust really happened.
That project was defeated, however, by massive projects to document the Holocaust empirically, including large-scale recordings of eyewitnesses’, survivors’, and perpetrators’ testimony — as well as Germany’s achievements in forthrightness, and such public spectacles as the trial of David Irving’s libel claims against Deborah Lipstadt. That trial culminated in the London High Court’s Justice Charles Gray’s ruling in the Spring of 2000, not only on the libel case at hand, but on the Holocaust’s historicity per se, making way for a millennially symbolic change of periods. It was a kind of death knell for Holocaust Denial in the Western mainstream.
There has been some backtracking in the early years of our current century, due in part to the rise of the Internet and the potential it presents for well-presented false information (“fake news”) to influence many. Still, the Internet’s revival of peripheral Holocaust Denial, disturbing as it is and countered as it must be, is a low-wattage phenomenon compared to the new, truly dangerous and infectious genre of the malady, which was arising just as the old version was losing its last vestiges of currency.
Within the mythology of East European nationalists, particularly but not exclusively in the Baltics and western Ukraine — where there was massive local participation in the actual killing of Jews, usually by shooting at local pits rather than by deportation to faraway camps — the Bogus moral equivalence of the Holocaust has been from the time of the actual massacres the myth that the Jews were all Communists and got what they deserved because Communism was every bit as genocidal as Nazism. Hence what the Jews call the Holocaust is a kind of opposite and equal reaction to the first genocide, the crimes of Communism.
For decades after World War II, this view was especially pronounced in Western diaspora communities from these countries, especially among those who migrated to the West at the war’s end. But such views on the fringes of obscure ultranationalist communities generally had little effect on wider society. It was only with the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of pro-Western states in much of Eastern Europe that the ultranationalist trope, emanating from those who rejoiced in the Nazis’ 1941 invasion of the USSR and in the “achievement” of a much more ethnically “clean,” homogeneous homeland, would be established as an acceptable-sounding new “analysis” of World War II. That new analysis would, in the fullness of time, recast the Holocaust as one of two essentially equal genocides by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.
The capacity of East European states, including the Baltics, to rise as successful, impressive new democracies and join NATO and the EU in short order actually belies the notion that the Soviet crimes these nations suffered — and they suffered many, including deportations and the loss of religious, political and personal freedoms, including the freedom to emigrate — could have included genocide. Nevertheless, upon gaining their independence, these nations set about what the British parliamentarian and human rights champion John Mann has aptly called “an industrial-scale rewriting of history.” Mann, cofounder of the British parliament’s cross-party group to counter antisemitism, was in fact the first elected official in Europe (or anywhere) to expose an ongoing, powerful, but under-the-radar movement to rewrite Holocaust history. It was formally launched in January 2008, when a group of European Parliament members held a conference in Tallinn, Estonia, called “Common Europe — Common History,” dedicated to the idea that European unity in effect requires Western Europe (“Old Europe”) to give up its World War II notion of an anti-Nazi alliance — which crucially included the USSR from 1941 to 1945, without which Europe would have been Hitler’s — and replace it with a new paradigm of two equal evils, Communism and Nazism, in commemorating World War II.
Rising in the House of Commons on 31 January 2008, Mann slammed the effort to impose this kind of historical revisionism upon the West in the interests of “unity” (as if unity cannot tolerate diversity of views on history). Common Europe — Common History, Mann said, “is just a traditional form of prejudice, rewritten in a modern context. In essence, it is trying to equate Communism and Judaism as one conspiracy and rewrite history from a nationalist point of view.”
In fact, the next offensive in the crusade to entrench the idea that there were two equal genocides in 20th-century Europe was launched, with dozens of European parliamentarians signing, in June of that year: the “Prague Declaration.” “Consciousness of the crimes against humanity committed by the Communist regimes throughout the continent must inform all European minds to the same extent as the Nazi regime’s crimes did,” said the document. It went on to demand that recognition must be given “for their sufferings in the same way as the victims of Nazism have been morally and politically recognized.” The declaration called for a process of assessment equal to the Nuremberg Tribunal, and the establishment of August 23rd, the date of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939, as a date of pan-European commemoration “in the same way Europe remembers the victims of the Holocaust on January 27th,” an “overhaul of European history textbooks so that children could learn and be warned about Communism and its crimes in the same way as they have been taught to assess the Nazi crimes.”
THERE IS MUCH in the Prague Declaration that sounds exquisitely fair and in the spirit of equality of all peoples — for example, its call for the “principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination of victims of all the totalitarian regimes.” But for those living in Eastern Europe, it turned out to mean that there be equivalence in principle between, say, a town where all Jewish people were murdered and a town where a small minority of resident Latvian citizens were wrongfully deported by the Soviets to Siberia or otherwise deprived of human rights — truly a serious crime that needs to be documented and acknowledged, but not equivalent to genocide. Dr. Clemens Heni, a young Berlin-based political scientist, deserves much credit for academically deconstructing and exposing the Prague Declaration for what it is, when most academics in the field have feared to touch these issues with a bargepole (lest they be thought of as “Putinist lackeys” — such is the McCarthy-spirited shutdown of debate on the topic in recent years).
The roots of bogus moral equivalence argumentation are older, go deeper, and have distinct offshoots. A project to redefine “genocide” was already underway in the 1990s, with a number of Eastern European governments and parliaments passing laws (Lithuania in 1992, Estonia in 1994, Latvia in 1998) that defined as acts of genocide deportation and the elimination of “social classes” (such as the class of dissident intellectuals) from society by means including imprisonment, unemployment, deportation, and death. National museums were also established that equated the Communist and Nazi regimes, including the Museum of Genocide Victims founded in central Vilnius in 1992 (which until 2011 did not even mention the word “Holocaust”); the Lonsky Street Museum in Lviv, Ukraine, founded in 2009 (which has used Photoshop to obscure Jewish victims from a 1941 photograph); and Budapest’s “House of Terror,” which dates to 2002 and includes the “general” Communist star alongside the symbol specific to the Hungarian fascist leaders who deported their Jewish citizens to Auschwitz.
These museums have cumulatively welcomed millions of Western visitors, many of whom haven’t a clue that there is an active, state-sponsored attempt at Holocaust revisionism underway. It is shocking that young reporters from the New York Times in 2015, and the San Francisco Examiner in 2016, gave the Vilnius “Museum of Genocide Victims” uncritical, glowing write-ups, as if they had finally discovered what that genocide over in Europe was all about. By contrast, an older Guardian reporter (now retired), saw right through the place back in 2008.
ONE MAJOR SYMPTOM of the revisionism underway in Eastern Europe is the rehabilitation of Nazi collaborators as “national heroes” on the grounds that they were anti-Soviet. Here we see direct parallels with the current American debate on Confederate statues and memorials, but in Eastern Europe it is commission of genocide rather than the defense of slavery that is being honored.
It is fair to say that nearly all the local killers in Eastern Europe were, at the time of their crimes, reliably anti-Soviet. From the Nazi invasion of June 22, 1941 onward, when the actual genocidal phase of the Holocaust got underway, each and every murderer was anti-Soviet and yearned for a Nazi victory. By contrast, every victim of the Nazis, and all the Righteous among the Nations who risked all to just do the right thing and save a neighbor, prayed for a Soviet victory — not because they were all Communists, but because the Soviet Union was the only force seriously fighting the Nazis on ground zero of the Holocaust from the onset of the genocide and right through to liberation.
At its theoretical apex — and moral nadir — among scholars, politicians, and prosecutors in the Baltics and Ukraine, Bogus moral equivalence has also involved unstinting efforts to smear Holocaust victims and survivors. This reached its low point with a campaign by Lithuanian prosecutors to open “pre-trial investigations” of Holocaust survivors — particularly those who survived by joining groups of Soviet-sponsored partisans in the forests, or who in recent years supposedly committed “libel” against Baltic “heroes” who had collaborated with the Nazis.
The campaign started in 2006, and it goes on indefinitely (one of the five primary victims of these “investigations,” Dr. Rachel Margolis, passed away in 2015), although charges or specific allegations have never been proffered — nor have any state apologies ever been forthcoming.
As the official revisionist theory sees it, the Holocaust’s local perpetrators may have indeed committed murder against their neighbors, but they were heroes for standing up against the Soviet Union, while Holocaust survivors, victims of the Nazis and their collaborators, became war criminals if they survived by joining the partisans.
One of the most specific enunciations came from the executive director of the Lithuanian government’s lavishly sponsored “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania” (known in the diplomatic community as the “Red-Brown Commission”), in an on-camera statement made at Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai), the massmurder site outside Vilnius where 100,000 people were murdered, among them 70,000 Jews. In the statement, for a recent Germanmade documentary film, when asked about one of the defamed Jewish partisans, Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, he said: “I entirely agree that Fania Brantsovsky and others may feel bad, and I understand, but you know, the whole history was complex. In one situation, you know, the same person could be a victim, in another situation the same person can be a murderer and vice versa [. . .] Our commission is set up for reconciliation between these nations, between these groups who suffered from two totalitarian regimes [. . .]”
Most current antisemitism in Eastern Europe is closely related to these debates, as nationalists strive to “fix” their nations’ collaboration (or in the case of the Baltics and Ukraine, participation) in the Holocaust with revised paradigms that equal everything out.
One of the poisons of ultranationalism is the perceived need to construct a perfect history (no country on the planet has one of those). Another is hatred of local Jewish communities who have memory, or family, or collective memory, of nationalist neighbors turning viciously on their neighbors in 1941, and of the Soviets being responsible for their own grandparents or parents being saved from the Holocaust. In America, this would be akin to someone hating African Americans for having a different opinion of Washington or Jefferson because they were slaveholders.
In international parlance, the usual name for the revised history of the Holocaust era, reflecting the foregone conclusion that there were, morally speaking, two genocides, is “Double Genocide.” But not all sides accept the term. In fact, the diplomatic and academic lexicon is replete with alternatives: “equal evaluation of totalitarian regimes” or “reconciliation of history” (the Eurospeak favorites in Brussels and Strasbourg); “rebalancing of World War II away from the Jewish-centric and Soviet paradigm that dominates in America” (that’s the elite antisemitic/nationalist formulation); “saving the Holocaust for history by putting it in its actual historic context” (American historians after their umpteenth trip to Eastern Europe); or just plain “symmetry.”
The European Union actually finances the Platform of European Memory and Conscience in Prague, which has produced lavish, glossy publications, exhibits, and events intended to create a culture of Double Genocide in Europe and beyond. Under the aegis of a rightwing director from Sweden, it is working to set up a permanent museum in Brussels, the capital of the European Union, that is slated to become the major shrine for the movement in the West.
Such examples may have limited impact themselves. They are, however, dangerous for having the capacity to misrepresent a far-right revisionist view of history as some kind of new mainstream European Union norm.
The real explosion of Double Genocide acceptability abroad has come from an acquiescence born of political impetus, or, to be more precise, from two political impetuses: Israeli and American.
ISRAEL NEEDS East European votes in the United Nations, the European Union, UNESCO, and myriad other international organizations, and can get these votes; Eastern Europe has little interest in Palestinian issues or the intricacies of Middle East affairs.
The late Middle East specialist Barry Rubin openly crafted an Israeli policy of accommodation to the reappraisals of the Holocaust and World War II, including the Prague Declaration, as part of a program to strengthen Israel’s diplomatic posture.
To its editor’s credit, the Israeli Journal of Foreign Affairs in 2010 hosted a free and balanced debate on this issue in its pages. Around that time and in the ensuing years, Israeli foreign policy was shifting. Israel was pressed to give legitimacy to the aforementioned “Red-Brown Commission” by having Yad Vashem officially join it (actually rejoin; Yad Vashem had pulled out after Lithuanian prosecutors began proceedings against one of the commission’s own members, former Yad Vashem director Yitzhak Arad, for “war crimes,” in other words for escaping the ghetto to join up with the anti-Nazi resistance).
Yad Vashem’s repeated concessions to East European revisionism, under Israeli government pressure, have on occasion elicited the rare and painful specter of aged Israeli Holocaust survivors begging it to reconsider. There have even been modifications to Yad Vashem’s own exhibit on the Holocaust in Lithuania.
Since opening an Israeli embassy in Vilnius (previously the embassy in Riga had covered Latvia as well as Lithuania) several years ago, the new ambassador has repeatedly betrayed Holocaust survivors, especially the three Israeli citizens waiting (or whose families wait) for a formal Lithuanian apology for the defamatory accusations of “war crimes” or “libeling heroes” that continue to mar their reputations, whether in history books or the Internet. After a 2016 neo-Nazi parade in Kaunas (Kovno), Lithuania’s second city, which featured banners extolling local Holocaust collaborators, he publicly congratulated the city’s leaders on their Jewish remembrance policies without publicly mentioning, howsoever politely, the annual neo-Nazi extravaganza allowed to hijack the city center on the nation’s very independence day.
But no discussion of Israeli foreign policy on the Holocaust in Eastern Europe can be complete without singling out for his exceptional courage, integrity and sheer diplomatic genius the late Israeli Ambassador to the Baltics, Chen Ivri Apter (1958—2012), who demonstrated that he could build the best possible relations with Baltic states while standing up for his own citizens and for the truth of Jewish history. When I organized an evening in Tel Aviv in June 2009 to honor the late Dr. Rachel Margolis, one of the Holocaust survivors and partisan heroes defamed by prosecutors and afraid to go back for a last farewell to her beloved Vilna, Ambassador Apter came specially to join the event, and gave a speech that countered Double Genocide in simple, stark, elegant terms, one that will go down in history. The Jews of Vilnius continue to lovingly and loyally cherish his memory.
UNITED STATES POLICY regarding the Double Genocide theory began to change markedly around 2009 (I have written about this in considerable detail at the Jewish Currents website.) As one American diplomat put it to me some years ago, off the record: “Look, these guys will stand up to the Russians, not like England, France and Germany. And if all they want is some changes in the history, and it’s changes that hit Putin in the face, then why the hell not?!”
American embassies in the region have thus organized one-sided Holocaust conferences closed to a diversity of views. When in 2012 the Lithuanian government repatriated from Putnam, Connecticut, the remains of the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister who signed papers ordering the Jews of his city, Kaunas, to a murder camp and the rest to the Kovno Ghetto, the American Embassy, instead of politely speaking up in the spirit of American values, covered for the sham with “balanced statements” and the organization of a cover-up conference featuring Yale professor Timothy Snyder as well as the director of YIVO. Nobody at the conference even mentioned the reburial with full honors underway. When the East European countries inserted Double Genocide language, blaming both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, equally, for “genocide,” into a declaration of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2009, the United States voted for it.
For the record, I think it is vital that the West continues to support unstintingly the democratic states of the eastern NATO and EU region against Putin’s ever-more dictatorial, dangerous, and revanchist regime. Also for the record, Holocaust revisionism and Double Genocide politics are the wrong way to do that, from the viewpoint of American values and American heritage. These values include telling the truth about the Holocaust — which should extend to rejecting ultra-nationalistic campaigns to obfuscate that truth (just as we should tell the truth about America’s own worst calamity, slavery, and oppose campaigns to obfuscate its reality.)
American values also include the commitment to freedom of speech. But strange to tell, freedom of speech has not been the rule for issues involving Double Genocide: Eastern European states have been passing laws effectively criminalizing the opinion that there was but one genocide in the region. The punishments now enshrined in law range from imprisonment for two years in Lithuania to ten years in Ukraine. As for the American heritage issue, it a gross betrayal of American pride to consign to oblivion America’s huge sacrifices in the anti-Nazi war, in alliance with Great Britain and the Soviet Union, among others, because a few of our allies don’t like this or that chapter of history.
The Holocaust is not referred to simply as the “Nazi genocide,” but has its own names — Yiddish, der Khurbn, Hebrew, ha-Shoah, English, the Holocaust — to signify a unique event. It is more than a linguistic curiosity that postwar attempts by some Jewish groups to subsume the Holocaust as one of the historic massacres endured by the Jews that are mourned on Tíshebov (Tisha b’Av) failed, because of the virtually unanimous feeling among survivors that this one, in 20th-century Europe, was so very different, and intrinsically incomparable with even the primary ancient national catastrophes of destruction and exile.
The Holocaust cannot, must not, be subsumed — but that is precisely what the Double Genocide theory seeks to do. It is the primary new mainstream form of Holocaust Denial, and should be treated with at least as much outrage as President Trump’s invocation of supposed moral equivalence between people who came to Charlottesville, Virginia in Nazi-style torch-lit processions to chant, “Jews will not replace us” and the Nazis’ “Blood and Soil” in English translation (they had to make their connection to Hitler-era Nazism), and those who came to protest them. Infinitely, infinitely less can the Holocaust itself be considered as a moral equal of some other “bad thing” from its period in history — other than for the proponents of Bogus moral equivalence, who use it as a tool of discourse, sophistry, casuistry, to talk the Holocaust out of history without denying a single death.
Dovid Katz is a Brooklyn-born, Vilniusbased independent Yiddish studies and Holocaust scholar. He edits Defending History.com. Katz founded and led Yiddish Studies at Oxford for eighteen years, and after a stint at Yale, was professor of Yiddish language, literature, and culture at Vilnius University (1999-2010). He is currently professor at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University and notes that the views expressed herein are strictly his own. His personal website is http://www.DovidKatz.net.
In the ongoing EU propaganda against Russia, rewriting history plays a more important part than what has been recognized so far by most people in the peace movement. This includes criminalizing and harassing people who claim that Lithuanians who today are acknowledged as official national heroes actually took active part in the Holocaust. Early March a trial will take place in Vilnius in an attempt to turn the tide.
In the British semi secret Integrity Initiative project1, every possibility to wage an information war against Russia is taken into account. This includes approaching academic historians to make them write history in the NATO correct way.2 Integrity Initiative explicitly sees Lithuania as an example for the rest of Europe in its way to wage information war against Russia. The leader of Integrity Initiative in Lithuania is also so far the only alleged Integrity Initiative cluster leader that proudly presents himself as having such a position.3 The Ministry of Defense in Lithuania is also among the few funders of Integrity Initiative.4 In the leaked documents Integrity Initiative report that Lithuanian armed forces have been training the British Army’s 77th Brigade5, a brigade engaged in fighting information war on the internet:
”Lithuania has become particularly important in our network due to its expertise in dealing with Russian malign influence and disinformation. We currently have four centres of expertise in Lithuania. Since 2015 we have had a close link with the Lithuanian Armed Forces Stratcom team, currently drawing on their expertise, with the support of the Lithuanian Chief of Defence, to educate other national clusters on effective methodologies for tracking Russian activities. We initiated a link between this team and the UK 77 Bde, resulting in 77 Bde adopting the Lithuanian techniques.”6
Lithuania have long experience in rewriting history to demonise Soviet Union and using this to also defame Russia. This rewriting of history has even included to put a stamp on Jewish partisans as persons who have committed the worst war crime, participation in genocide.7 This follows the “double genocide theory” making communism equal to Nazism. According to this theory Soviet committed genocide of Lithuanians and Germany of Jews.8 To oppose this theory makes you a target for repression together with accusing Lithuanian national heroes claiming they have committed war crimes by taking part in the Holocaust. The struggle against those opposing rewriting of history has been going on for years.9 Evaldas Balčiūnas writes about 7 years of struggle against the Lithuanian state and far right extremism:
”Together with some friends, we tried to protest various neo-Nazi marches. I remember how in 2011, when we went to Gedimino Boulevard in central Vilnius to do exactly that, we attracted some police ‘attention’ and direct threats of physical violence. The Tolerant Youth Association’s (TYA) rainbow flag was the object of especially fiery reactions from the marchers. However, no violence took place during the march, although one of the protesters was beaten after it. Out of our wish to resist the rise of fascism, the non-formal anti-fascist organization Antifa Lietuva was born. Besides peaceful and legal action in the streets, it also ran a website. Some articles on it, such as those on neo-Nazi marches or neo-Nazis in the Lithuanian military, would receive feedback from wider society. Due to certain circumstances, the domain was registered under my name.
Then, our social activism gathered some attention from the secret services of the Republic of Lithuania. In their summary of the threats (!) to the Republic of Lithuania in 2013, published in early 2014, the State Security Department wrote about us in the chapter ‘Extremism and Terrorism’. An excerpt in translation:
‘In most European states, the phenomenon of radical anti-fascism is related to autonomist groups propagating ideologies of leftist extremism. In Lithuania and other Baltic States, this niche is taken by organizations that implement Russia’s foreign and information policy. Their members tend to use the term ‘right-wing extremism’ not only for expressions of state patriotism related to any country, but also for criticism towards Russia’s policies and for opposition to the concept of historical interpretation as suggested by Moscow.’
Words soon turned into actions. Various state-favored personages started suing and courts would take their claims seriously and start trials, even when claims clearly had no basis or contradicted official codes of procedure. Due to police and court persecutions, the website Antifa.lt was closed down. The persecution lasted a long time and was a struggle to endure. Because of it, I lost my job and had to look for another.
Four judges of the District Court of Vilnius City investigated — and rejected as lacking basis or contradicting the procedural requirements — claims submitted by a person who was later convicted in a case of what could be called, in my humble opinion, political murder: the original conflict that led to the killing started when a group of bar patrons, closely associated with neo-Nazis, decided that another patron was a Putin supporter. The fight was uneven: The wolfpack attacked two people, of whom one died as a result.
My trials were interesting as experience. They reminded me of the Soviet years, when the verdict would be known in advance. One judge made a verdict without my participation, without even asking me for any arguments or informing me about her decision. Another judge investigated the case for half a year, then was forced to admit that the claim contradicts the requirements of the Civil Code of Procedures and dismissed the case. The process was slowed down by failing to deliver court documents to other participants and by waiting for additional evidence, while I had to regularly travel to court hearings that would be cancelled more often than not. Every time, it was 450 kilometers there and back, and another wasted day in life.”10
Finally in 2016 Evaldas Balčiūnas was fund not guilty.11 A new struggle begun. A stone honoring Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika tops the lot on the facade of the Genocide Museum on Gedimino Boulevard in the Lithuanian capital, a stone’s throw from the nation’s parliament. ”When are we going to stop glorifying those who helped annihilate Lithuanian Jewry during the Holocaust?”12 This new struggle is now reaching its climax.
”On January 15th, 2019, at 10 AM, a momentous historic court case will unfold in Vilnius, Lithuania, scheduled to start at the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court at Žygimantų 2 in the heart of the capital. Challenged by a call for removal of Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika from the pantheon of national heroes (including street names, memorials and an inscribed stone block on the capital’s central boulevard), the state-sponsored “Genocide Center”, a bastion of far-right extremism that, in the opinion of many, does grave damage to the image of modern democratic Lithuania, will be defending Noreika using the hard-earned tax euros of the nation’s noble citizens.”13 The trial was postponed until March 5th.14
One would guess that the Lithuanian state finally would give up its struggle to defend even the most well documented Lithuanian participators in the Holocaust and stop attacking those who have exposed them. After all many years of harassment and trials had failed and finally a verdict was made. But now we are in Lithuania, a model country for the British Integrity Initiative, so the information war continues even long after the battles are lost.
The odd way to continue for ever a lost information war against a writing of history seen as helpful to Russia is what Integrity Initiative sees as an ideal. There is no such thing as peace on any issue. The Lithuanian ”expertise in dealing with Russian malign influence and disinformation” is to be used also in other countries. A leaked report from Norway summarizes well what the Integrity Initiative is about and how the cooperation partners in Lithuania acts:
”Building the cooperation between the classified and unclassified world, keeping in mind that one of the main targets is the hearts and minds of the public.”15
Illustration: Chris Donnelly in a video. ”In Donnelly’s world everything is subordinated their war on peace. Every aspect of our lives; social interactions, cultural activities, religious affiliation, trade links, political activism, professional activity and so on requires servitude to this war.”16
Such an actor that arbitrarily use whatever state or non-state tools they want, secretly or openly, is a danger to democracy. But is it fair to claim any linkage between Integrity Initiate and the attempt to repress questioning national heroes? The problem here is of course the secrecy. For sure is that the Lithuanian State Security Department equates antifascist autonomists with those in favor of Russian policies and historical interpretations. It is a country were domestic leaders of the Integrity Initiative proudly declares themselves to be part of this mixing of the state apparatus, research and journalism. Paul Robinson also point at a the disturbing world view expressed by the Integrity Initiative leader Chris Donnelly were ”boundaries between war and peace have disappeared”. To Donnelly we are at war now, a kind of information war which is part of a hybrid war against an enemy with immense capacity to implement an ‘integrated strategic campaign’ involving not only the military but all aspects of state power in a coherent whole. This alleged strategic culture make Russia a particularly dangerous enemy and ”is the strategic situation we will face for the next 25 years.”17
What happens in Lithuania is a testing ground for the kind of methods the British influence operation sees as a model for other countries. It is what a militarized neoliberalism will bring us all if we do not start to confront the rewriting of history and the repression against those who stand up against authoritarian ways to silence freedom of expression.
As the Lithuanian case is central for the attempts at rewriting history in all of Europe making it clear what is at stake we recommend people to learn more. A good starting point is a video about Lithuanian struggle against those opposing the far right rewriting of history. To support the case in the trial it has been made public for free. It is a professionally made Australian documentary about the often lonesome struggle by Jewish surviving partisans and their few supporters. It ends with a seemingly successful at the European Parliament and its president Hermann Schulz. But the success was temporary and the struggle goes on.18
Activists for Peace will continue to support the last Jewish partisans and their struggle against far right rewriting of history, a rewriting of history that have received wide support as it easily is instrumentalized in the Western information war against Russia and building of peace.
Activists for peace cooperation partner Prague Spring 2 network put light on the Lithuanian rewriting efforts in its newsletter some years ago:
From PS2 newsletter nr 2 2016
Lithuania rewrites history
In Lithuania rewriting of history has gone so far that criminal investigations start against Jewish partisans for committing genocide. Especially are those Jewish partisans accused who have exposed Lithuanian participation in the Holocaust, among them Yitzhak Arad the first director for 21 years of the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. As the Soviet partisans were the only multi ethnic partisan group in Eastern Europe Jewish survivors had nowhere else to go. In Lithuanian legislation this could involve participation in genocide according to the double genocide theory which states that a genocide was not only organized against the Jews but also against the population of Lithuania by the Soviets. Thus carefully selected Jewish partisans by the juridical authorities included not only those that had exposed the Lithuanian atrocities against the Jews but also selected members of Soviet partisan groups according to ethnic criteria, that is only Jews were going to be investigated for committing genocide. As they lived abroad this was hard to realize but as an act to brand Jews and Russia/Soviet for committing genocide it was useful.
Illustration: Skärmdump ur PS2 newsletter
1 The official Integrity Initiative website has been closed two months after Asnonymous started to leak secret documents from the computers belonging to the project. The leader of the project, Chris Donelly explains the purpose of the project in a video after the leak: Overview of leaked documents: Briefing note on the Integrity Initiative, Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason, Piers Robinson, http://syriapropagandamedia.org/working-papers/briefing-note-on-the-integrity-initiative
2 ”Key journalists should be approached and somewhat ambitious also ‘academics to track and expose the Russian distortion of history.’ ” https://steigan.no/2019/01/how-integrity-initiative-and-atlantic-council-is-exposed-in-norway/
5 Carl Miller, Inside the British Army’s secret information warfare machine, Wired, November 14, 2018, https://www.wired.co.uk/article/inside-the-77th-brigade-britains-information-warfare-military
6 Briefing note on the Integrity Initiative, Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason, Piers Robinson, chapter 8 Links of the Integrity Initiative with extremism in the Baltic States and Ukraine http://syriapropagandamedia.org/working-papers/briefing-note-on-the-integrity-initiative#links-of-the-integrity-initiative-with-extremism-in-the-baltic-states-and-ukraine
7 Blaming the Victims? State Agencies & Other Elites Defame Holocaust Survivors
8 Lithuanian Constitutional Court Further Enables “Double Genocide” http://defendinghistory.com/lithuanian-constitutional-court-enables-double-genocide/64984
18 Danny Ben-Mosche, Rewriting history https://vimeo.com/307585015
This material is a report from protests and a seminar i Gothenburg November 16-17, 2017. Activists for peace (In Swedish: Aktivister för fred) was one of the organizations coarranging the seminar.
1. Movements from all of Europe came together. From the East and the West, from the South and the North.
2. Popular movements independent from political parties took the leading role in connecting issues building both alliances across established parliamentarian issue sectors as well as going much further criticizing the whole development model and the present world order. With the support of MEPs.
3. Rural and urban movements were equally important, ecological issues as important as social.
4. The coming together of all movements had its roots in growing cooperation between popular movements uniting peasant, environmental and solidarity organizations struggling for food sovereignty; these movements together with trade unions against TTIP and CETA; peace, trade unions and environmentalists against militarization and for climate transition; refugee becoming more EU-critical connecting to other movements and in general movements democratizing society and building for alternatives to EU austerity politics.
5. EU politics was challenged at all levels, from social policy to the EU growth model, the two official summit issues.
6. The follow up possibilities are many at all levels from the local to the international. Especially on transversal issues and in general for all-European cooperation including both non-EU and EU countries, both East and West as well as the next World Social Forum in Brazil, March 2018.
Read the report as a pdf here: The new face of European resistance
“The EU bears responsibility on so many levels – from the current economic system that’s devastated our planet to human tragedies due to climate change. What we have also been seeing in the past couple of years is a humanitarian crisis – or better said- a crisis of humanity. We need collective action for social transformation. We need a systemic change in order to achieve climate justice. And this change, this transition, needs to be driven by principles of justice. Because we do not want to replicate the current system that is exploiting people. We need to build a better one, a more human one. What needs to be done to make this happen is movement building. And this movement needs to be inclusive and collaborative. A movement that is not just an environmental one. But which brings together all the injustices created by the system. Which recognises that some are suffering more than others as a result of these injustices. And which says: Refugees welcome. Black lives matter. Gender justice. Social justice. Because only united can we achieve change. Another Europe can and will be possible because people have the power.”
Maruska Mileta from Friends of the Earth Croatia
in a speech at the Alternative Summit manifestation
at Gustav Adolfs Torg in Gothenburg, Sweden, November 17, 2017
p2 Foreword: “Only united can we achieve change”
p3 Op-Ed and content
p4-7 Activities during the Alternative Summit
p8-13 Social rights & fair jobs everywhere!
p14-15 Another Europe is possible
p16-19 EU – The dictatorship of capitalism. EU history and whose interests it serves
– Kajsa Ekis Ekman
– The case of Greece
– Bike action against corporate EU
p20-25 Stop Corporate power!
– Lora Verheecke
– CEO articles
p26-31 Refugees Welcome!
– International Call for PPT
– Emancipation with refugees, not from them! CEESF in Wroclaw
– The rise of the far right
– Closing borders to refugees and migrants is unjust and dangerous!
p32-43 Peace on Earth – Peace with Earth
– Dave Webb
– Militarization of information: NATO and EU propaganda is now called Strategic Communications
– Building peace in Warsaw
– EU loves NATO
– Anti-militarism and socio-ecological transition in unity
– We need a new critical and indepedent peace movement
p44-47 System change – not climate change!
– Maruska Mileta
– Climate transition
– COP23: EU acts as if climate change a distant prospect
– COP23: From the coal mine to the conference
p48-55 The EU and agroindustrial threat to family farmers and society
– Ole Jacob Christensen- Via Campesina Europe articles
p56-65 Alternatives to EU austerity politic
– Basic income workshop
– Matyas Benyik
– Marko Ulvila
– The hidden agenda of the European Union
– Keynes and his critics in the same boat
– Austerity measures in Central and Eastern Europe, especially in Hungary
– The Collapse of the Eastern EU model
p66-69 Just transition & No to EU growth model
– EU-critical economic theory
p70-73 EU a tool for neocolonialism
– EU rewrites history
p74-79 The Future of EU
– Black Swans Queuing in Europe
p80-93 The road to Gothenburg
– Resisting EU in Sweden
– Time to build resistance in Europe
– Internationalism more necessary than ever
– Movements challenging the European Crisis
– Another internationalism is possible
– Left projects in Western Europe
– No Future without peasants!
– Behind the scenes
p94-95 Call for unity
p96-104 The road from Gothenburg
– World Social Forum – Alternative to Capitalism
– A new people’s global initiative
– Another Europe in the Making
– Reflections after the alternative EU summit
Here you find an overview of the content in our list of Integrity Initiative links from 36 countries and some Atlantic Council links. The list is compiled by Activist for peace, Sweden, January 5, 2019 and it contains four parts. Each part is linked from this blogpost. You find that the headings below are clickable.
Screenprint of UK Column: “What is the Integrity Iniative? A short briefing paper.”, December 2018.
Each part with links includes mainly unique texts. Reposted and republished text have been avoided; unless there is a specific interest in terms of additional comments, languages or countries.
When the title is easy readable in the end of the link it is sometimes not stated in the heading. Sometimes, you also have to click on the link to check the date when the text was published.
Note that we have not made any assessment concerning trustworthiness. You have to use your own judgement; preferably by assessing the content rather than the sender. All texts have been included based on that they have some substance and that we have not missed any text. One exception is many Russian sources since we have not been able to assess them quickly.
At the moment, we have no intention to update this list. We can reconsider this if we are offered help in this work. If you want to contribute, you can contact us through our website (see above).
Countries from and groups of countries A-U (List of countries and number of entries)
To complement our compiled list of Integrity Initiative links from around 40 countries and some Atlantic Council links, Activists for peace (In Swedish: Aktivister för fred) has chosen to publish a an extensive compilation of links in relation to a related scandal that took place last (2017) in Sweden.
“In early December 2018, Tord Björk from Activists for Peace was once more the target of a smear campaign. In a joint effort by Stockholm Free World Forum, an NGO paid by The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise to promote business interest in security affairs and Atlantic Council, the closer cooperation between environmental and peace movement and linkages to the Green Party was presented as a threat in the report Kremlin’s Trojan Horses 3.0. Tord Björk had written in an article in an environmental magazine that the referendum in Crimea in 2014 was a breach of international law but that a majority of the local population including the Ukrainians supports the outcome. The author of the report, Henrik Sundbom, a fellow at Stockholm Free World Forum, claimed that the article showed to much sympathy with the Russian Crimean narrative.
Last year a close cooperation partner to Henrik Sundbom , Martin Kragh, head of the Russia and Eurasian programme at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs and researcher at the Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Uppsala University where he also is Research Director at the Uppsala Forum for Democracy, Peace, and Justice, together with the daily Expressen also started a smear campaign against Tord Björk and Ukrainabulletinen, the newsletter publicized by Activists for peace.“
Activists for peace in Make 2019 a year of peace!, January 5, 2019
Screenprint of the Institute of Statecraft’s homepage, December 2019.