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MOT: Russia Planned Islamophobic Campaigns in Finland, Sweden to Delay NATO Membership


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Russia made plans to disrupt Finland and Sweden’s accession to joining Nato, according to a secret intelligence report obtained by an Yle MOT investigation.

The report found that a Russian intelligence service planned to organise disruption campaigns disguised as demonstrations before the countries’ Nato applications were approved.

The plan was revealed in a memo prepared by a Russian intelligence officer and originally leaked to The Dossier Center, an organisation whose stated goal is to “track the criminal activity of various people associated with the Kremlin.”

The intelligence service’s plan highlighted that violent demonstrations in Sweden following the burning of the Koran increased fear of radical Islam in EU countries. The Russian intelligence document called for this tension to be fuelled further.

The objective stated in the document was to increase friction between Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country, and European and other Nato countries.

The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) confirmed that it was aware of the Russian intelligence service’s plans to incite demonstrations in Finland. Supo did not comment further on the matter due to operational activities.

In the documents obtained by MOT, there was no indication that Russia successfully accomplished its plans in Finland.

Wedge between Turkey and Europe

In an attempt to cause a rift between Turkey and Europe, the document listed different methods used by Russian intelligence services within Europe.

Among them were plans for demonstrations mocking Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in major European cities.

The document mentions using as much anti-Islam and anti-Erdogan graffiti as possible in well-known public spaces and spreading the protests widely on social media.

The Dossier Center noted that the intelligence documents describe a Russian influence campaign in March 2023 in the French capital Paris. During that time, there were demonstrations against Islam and Turkey.

Use Turkey to block Nordics

Ilya Rozhdestvensky, editor of The Dossier Center, said that in his view the Russian intelligence service tried to slow down the Nato accession process of Finland and Sweden. However, he added that these campaigns primarily focused on Sweden.

Sweden’s reputation in Turkey and other Muslim-majority countries had suffered following a number of Koran-burning protests held in Stockholm.

Finland was admitted to Nato in April 2023, while Sweden is still waiting on Turkey and Hungary to approve its membership.

Rozhdestvensky said that it is typical for the Russian intelligence service to try to find disputes that already exist between countries or ethnic groups in Europe and intensify them.

The documents related to the Nordic countries were originally prepared by a Russian intelligence officer.

The MOT investigation team knows the identity of the author of the reports and information about which intelligence unit they work for. However, this information has not been not published for security reasons.

Source: Yle


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