Report: Russia spread fake news and disinformation in Sweden

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President Vladimir Putin’s has been accused of trying to help Donald Trump win the US presidency. (Maxim Shemetov / REUTERS)
Russia has coordinated a campaign over the past two years to influence Sweden’s decision making by using disinformation, propaganda and false documents, according to a report by influential researchers, The Swedish Institute of International Affairs.

One of the main tools for spreading false information was the Swedish language version of the state-funded news website, Sputnik News, one of the reports co-authors Sebastian Åsberg told Radio Sweden.

The website was active between spring 2015 and spring 2016, publishing nearly 4,000 articles.

“It was highly negative articles about NATO or the EU for example, the migration policies of the EU,” Åsberg said. “And then there’s the forged documents and letters which was very interesting as well, that started emerging quite a lot in 2015 and 2016.”

The report also said that armies of trolls were targeting journalists and academics on social media and mainstream media sources had wittingly, or unwittingly, spread disinformation.

Åsberg said it was difficult to know how effective the campaign had been but debates about NATO ahead of a decision in Parliament had been notable for the falsehoods that appeared.

He said he thought there were several motivations for targeting Sweden but the main reason was to minimize NATO’s role in the Baltic region.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada’s defence review and the Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Denmark:  Nordics to step up security cooperation on perceived Russian threat, Yle News

Finland: Finland confirms 6th Russian airspace violation in just over a year, Yle News

Norway:  Russia is more confident and unpredictable: Norwegian Intelligence Service, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia:  New Russian spy ship to keep tabs on Norway, Barents Observer

Sweden:  New security landscape in the Arctic, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. general says Alaska military cuts not final without Arctic plan, Alaska Public Radio Network

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