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.
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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.
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