Oscar Jonsson, a researcher at the Swedish Defence University, tweeted out a picture of photograph of a Moscow bus stop carrying the propaganda poster, which has the word ‘they’ written in the colours of the Swedish flag.
Latest plot twist from Moscow "We are against nazism, but they are not" with signs of Astrid Lindgren, Ingemar Bergman, Ingvar Kamprad (IKEA). pic.twitter.com/Sr1z5iIRQx
— Oscar Jonsson (@OAJonsson) May 3, 2022
Another poster accuses King Gustaf V of being a Nazi.
Jonsson told The Local he was certain that the posters were genuine, but suspected that they were intended for Swedish consumption, as at least one of them had been placed outside the Swedish Embassy in Moscow.
“They’re more of a provocation to Sweden than something for the Russian people,” he said.
Mikael Östlund, communication chief at Sweden’s Psychological Defence Agency, argued the opposite case, that the posters were primarily designed to justify the war in Ukraine to Russia’s own population.
“Accusing western countries of Nazism is a part of the justification for their own war,” he said. “This is probably directed towards its own population. This has been one of the justifications for the war in Ukraine as well.”
Others even suggested they might even be a preparation for military action .
“Are there any limits to these guys? Or are they preparing a ‘denazifying’ operation against Sweden as well?” tweeted Sweden’s former prime minister Carl Bildt.
The Swedish foreign ministry said it was aware of the posters, but refused to comment.
“We have no intention of engaging in a public polemic with the Russian organisation ‘Our Victory’, which is reportedly behind these posters,” a spokesperson told TT. “In Russia, smears about ‘Nazism’ have been used repeatedly against countries and individuals who are critical of Russia’s actions.”
At a press conference in Germany, Sweden’s prime minister called the campaign “completely unacceptable”.
“But it is important to say already right now that Sweden could become the target of an influence campaign by foreign powers,” she said. “It’s important that all Swedes, and not least those of you in journalism, recognise that there is a risk that foreign powers will try to influence the Swedish debate climate.”
Anti-Swedish propaganda posters being put up in Russia portraying Swedish icons like Astrid Lindgren (Pippi Longstocking), Ingmar Bergman & IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad as Nazi supporters. (Kamprad was member of neo-Nazi groups in youth, but other two clearly ridiculous.) pic.twitter.com/RJgjBBO02P
— Christian Christensen (@ChrChristensen) May 3, 2022
The poster leads with a quote from the Second World War diaries of the writer Astrid Lindgren, who created the character Pippi Longstocking.
This is from a passage where Lindgren, a German speaker, expresses her fears that Russia might invade Sweden, saying a Russian occupation would be worse than a German one.
“And so I think I’d rather say ‘Heil Hitler’ my whole life than get the Russians on top of us. You can hardly think of anything so awful,” Lindgren writes.
It’s worth pointing out that Lindgren was a committed anti-Nazi, who also wrote in her diary that Hitler was ‘a little, unknown German artisan’ who had become ‘his people’s nemesis and cultural destroyer’.
The second quote, a heavily-edited extract from Ingmar Bergman’s memoir, The Magic Lantern, describes how he attended a Hitler rally when he was a 16-year-old exchange student living with a family in Germany, and then received a photograph of Hitler from his exchange partner as a birthday present, which was hung over his bed.