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Sweden Launches ‘Psychological Defence Agency’ To Counter Russian, Chinese, and Iranian Disinformation

January 12th, 2022 16:07

UK media is report­ing that Swe­den has launched a new agency to counter Russ­ian, Chi­nese, and Iran­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion and influ­ence oper­a­tions. Accord­ing to a report in The Telegraph:

Jan­u­ary 4, 2022 Swe­den has launched a new agency ded­i­cat­ed to defend­ing the coun­try against dis­in­for­ma­tion, pro­pa­gan­da and psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare in the lat­est part of its efforts to bring mil­i­tary and civ­il defence back towards Cold War lev­els.  The offi­cial open­ing of the Swedish Psy­cho­log­i­cal Defence Agency came on the same day that Fin­land’s Pres­i­dent Sauli Niin­istö accused Rus­sia of “chal­leng­ing the sov­er­eign­ty of sev­er­al EU mem­ber states, includ­ing Swe­den and Fin­land” by demand­ing secu­ri­ty guar­an­tees rul­ing out “Nato’s fur­ther move­ment east­ward”.  “Dis­in­for­ma­tion is a threat to Swedish democ­ra­cy, our deci­sion-mak­ers and to our inde­pen­dence”, Swe­den’s inte­ri­or min­is­ter Mikael Damberg said at a press con­fer­ence in Octo­ber announc­ing the appoint­ment of Hen­rik Lan­der­holm, a for­mer Vice-Chan­cel­lor for the Swedish Defence Uni­ver­si­ty, to head the agency.

Read the rest here.

Accord­ing to the report, the head of the new agency iden­ti­fied Rus­sia, Chi­na and Iran as three coun­tries known to mount dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns against Swe­den, adding that the pro­pa­gan­da was often aimed at sow­ing divi­sion with­in soci­ety and under­min­ing trust in the authorities.

The Swedish Psy­cho­log­i­cal Defence Agency web­site says dis­in­for­ma­tion is spread by finan­cial inter­ests and by “actors in and out­side Swe­den with an agen­da to dam­age con­fi­dence in Swe­den and its open demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety.” Psy­cho­log­i­cal defense is described  by the web­site as follows:

Psy­cho­log­i­cal defence is society’s com­mon abil­i­ty to resist undue influ­ence on infor­ma­tion and oth­er mis­lead­ing infor­ma­tion direct­ed at Swe­den. Our col­lec­tive resis­tance to dis­in­for­ma­tion, pro­pa­gan­da and psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare should pre­vent or make it dif­fi­cult for an attack­er to influ­ence our deci­sions, per­cep­tions or behaviours.

In Jan­u­ary 2021, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) rec­om­mend­ed a study ana­lyz­ing Rus­si­a’s dis­in­for­ma­tion influ­ence in Swe­den. In May, we report­ed on a study sug­gest­ing that Chi­na’s soft pow­er is in “a state of free fall” in Sweden.