Russian foreign minister decries Sweden’s ‘inhuman’ gender-neutral toilets

Russia's long-time foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has raised eyebrows by expressing his indignation at being forced to use a gender-neutral toilet at an OSCE summit in Stockholm.

Russian foreign minister decries Sweden's 'inhuman' gender-neutral toilets
Sergei Lavrov at the OSCE meeting in Stockholm where he had the inhuman experience of having to use a gender neutral toilet. It's unclear if this photo was taken before or after the traumatising event. Photo: Erik Simander/TT

“It’s what I saw in Sweden last year when I was attending a session of the OSCE Council of Ministers,” Lavrov told the audience at Primakov Readings, a forum dedicated to the memory of Yevgeny Primakov.

“I asked where the toilet was in the break, and I was shown a door with the words “WC”. I asked ‘is that the ladies or the gents?’, and I was told, ‘it’s for everyone’. I couldn’t believe it but that’s really how it was. You cannot imagine how inhuman this is.”. 

Lavrov’s statement came at the end of a diatribe against Western gender identity politics, in which he claimed that in the US and Europe “the diversity of genders has now exceeded 80”.  

The section was first picked up by Francis Carr, a Russia specialist at BBC Monitoring. 

“Once a fearsome diplomat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is now complaining about gender-neutral toilets in Sweden,” Scarr tweeted. 

Unsurprisingly to those who know the country well, the main reaction on Swedish Twitter was to criticise the standards of plumbing in Russia, rather than to focus on Lavrov’s views on gender identity. 

“It’s pretty rich of Lavrov to whine about there being gender-equal toilets in Sweden at the same time as one in four Russians aren’t connected to the sewage system and one in every ten lacks an indoor toilet,” Victor Rundqvist, a Centre Party county councillor from Halmstad, in a typical tweet

Yevgeny Primakov was a former Russian prime minister, foreign minister, and KGB foreign intelligence chief. 

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Jailed Swedish spy admits selling information to the Russians

Peyman Kia, 42, the eldest of the two brothers jailed in January for spying for Russia's GRU intelligence service, has for the first time admitted to passing over information for money.

Jailed Swedish spy admits selling information to the Russians

Kia had a long career in Swedish intelligence official, working for the security police, Säpo, as well as the Swedish Armed Forces and their military intelligence service, Must. He was sentenced to life in prison in January for what has been called Sweden’s worst-ever spy scandal. 

Throughout the court case last year, Kia and his brother claimed innocence, but now, in a new interview with Säpo, he has for the first time started to admit what he did. 

“It was quite simply to earn money for myself,” he told Säpo in an interview, according to the broadcaster TV4, although he played down the importance of the information he had passed over. 

“I have never been in direct contact [with GRU], actually physically. On the first occasion it was real intelligence information, it was ‘live’ intelligence information, and I got paid for it. Then messages came back and forth, and on the second occasion I sent information it was 100 percent false, totally invented, and it was invented because they started to make detailed requests”. 

“Based on the orders which came, I pulled off a con and made it up entirely, giving information I thought could be considered probable, and I got compensation for that too.” 

He told Säpo his first contact had been with the foreign intelligence service, SVR, but that he had been passed to Russia’s military intelligence wing, the GRU, after his first delivery of information. 

He said that Russian intelligence’s increased activity in Sweden had been connected to the annexation of the Crimean peninsula, and that in 2014, when he began feeding information to Russia, most of the information had been about the hunt for Russian submarines in the Swedish archipelago. 

“That’s all they were interested in. It was everything about the submarine hunt, who was working on it, and what information have they managed to collect,” he said. 

He said it had been his little brother, Payam Kia, who had posted envelopes to the Russian embassy addressed with just the three letters GRU. 

He has also told Säpo more about how the work was done, talking about a dead letter box he set up in the removable ceiling in the toilet of a public library, and a security box hidden in a false book in his family’s bookshelf where he hid his Iranian passport and ID.