How Russia is spreading fake news and forged docs in Sweden

The Local reports: Sweden’s most respected foreign policy institute has accused Russia of using underhand methods, including fake news, counterfeit documents, and other disinformation, to influence Swedish decision-making.

The report by Martin Kragh, a Russia expert at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, is the first empirical study detailing Russia’s use of ‘active measures’ in its information war against Sweden, which is largely directed at steering the country away from joining Nato.

“The study lies within a subject area which a lot of people are discussing right now, and we want to contribute to that discussion,” Kragh told Sweden’s Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

“It is completely normal for a foreign minister to say that some development concerns them, or is positive, but what we see as a problem is when illegitimate methods are used to try to influence opinion or decision-making in Sweden.”

“It may not necessarily be politically effective to spread false documents, but we believe it demonstrates an intention to influence decision-making and that in itself is a reason to try to document and understand the ways in which it is carried out.”

In the study, which is published in the Journal of Strategic Studies, Kragh argues that over the past few years, Russia has increasingly been returning to what the KGB historically referred to as “active measures” to impact public opinion in Sweden.

According the report, “active measures” are designed “to hamper the target country’s ability to generate public support in pursuing its policies”.

Such measures have included the Russian government deploying troll armies on Swedish Twitter, launching its own Swedish-language version of the news site Sputnik, and spreading fake documents, 26 of which Kragh has identified. [Continue reading…]

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