Russia smears Pippi Longstocking author as Nazi in propaganda posters

Russia has launched a poster campaign in Moscow featuring ostensibly pro-Nazi quotes from the Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, the film-maker Ingmar Bergman, and the Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad. "We are against Nazism, but they are not," the poster reads.

Russia smears Pippi Longstocking author as Nazi in propaganda posters
The poster was put up at this bus stop outside the Swedish embassy. Photo: Google Maps

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. 

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.” 

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US Secretary of State says again Sweden will join Nato ‘soon’

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has reiterated his belief that Sweden will soon become the 32nd member of the Nato alliance in a speech in Helsinki City Hall that marked the culmination of his Nordic tour.

US Secretary of State says again Sweden will join Nato 'soon'

Blinken, the US equivalent of a foreign minister, spoke warmly during the speech of Finland as Nato’s 31st member state, before expressing his confidence that Sweden would soon follow. 

“Nato added Finland as its 31st ally, and we will soon add Sweden as the 32nd,” Blinken said. “As we head into the Nato summit in Vilnius, our shared message will be clear. Nato allies are committed to enhance deterrence and defence. Nato’s door remains open to new members, and it will stay open.” 

Blinken’s speech came as it emerged that Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg would visit Turkey at the weekend to attend the inauguration of re-elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and hold talks with him, adding on the pressure on Erdogan to drop his opposition to Sweden joining Nato.

Stoltenberg on Thursday said during a Nato foreign ministers’ meeting in Norway that he would soon visit Ankara to work towards Sweden joining “as early as possible”, after speaking with Erdogan by phone earlier this week.

In his speech, Blinken detailed the extent to which Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had failed, diminishing Russia’s influence internationally, weakening its economy, and uniting its enemies. 

He spoke at length of how the lands allied behind Ukraine had pulled together, sending weapons, imposing sanctions, and punishing Russia by isolating it internationally. 

“Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” he said. “Has been a strategic failure, greatly diminishing Russia’s power, its interests and its influence for years to come.”

Blinken arrived in Oslo earlier this week, going on to visit Luleå for a trade meeting between the US and the EU, where he also met with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström.

He then moved on to Helsinki, where he has on Friday held meetings with Finland’s prime minister Sanna Marin and its foreign minister, Pekka Haavistö. 

The Nato statement issued on Friday said that Stoltenberg would attend Erdogan’s inauguration on Saturday. The Turkish president was last week re-elected to serve another five-year term.

The statement said the visit would extend into Sunday and Stoltenberg would “have bilateral meetings with President Erdogan and with senior Turkish officials”.

Turkey has dragged its feet over admitting Sweden to the military alliance, which can only admit new members if all existing members agree unanimously.

Finland, which had originally hoped to join in lock step with Sweden, formally joined the alliance alone in April.

Erdogan has accused Sweden of being a haven for “terrorists”, especially members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström on Thursday said his country has fulfilled all its commitments to join, and “it is time for Turkey and Hungary
to start the ratification of the Swedish membership to Nato”.

Many of the ministers who attended the Oslo meeting said they wanted to see Sweden join before a Nato summit in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius on July 11-12. Stoltenberg has said that goal was “absolutely possible”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, whose country is the dominant member of Nato, also said on Thursday that “we fully anticipate” Sweden joining by the Vilnius summit.