Russia has intensified its propaganda campaign against Sweden, accusing the Scandinavian nation of Nazism.
Posters linking national Swedish heroes with the Nazis have appeared at bus stops around Russia, according to reports on Tuesday.
The slogan “We are against Nazism, they are not” appeared alongside photos of Swedish figures such as Astrid Lindgren, famed for her children’s books featuring the character Pippi Longstocking; Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA; and Ingmar Bergman, a Swedish film director. The word “we” was printed in the colors of the Russian flag, while the word “they” was printed in the colors of the Swedish flag.
On the poster, alongside his photo, Kamprad was quoted from a 2011 book, saying: “I was a Nazi! I admired Hitler!” Kamprad elaborated further that his participation in Sweden’s Nazi youth movement during the war was the “greatest mistake of my life.”
A different version of the poster accused Sweden’s King Gustav V of being a Nazi.
The provocation comes as Sweden prepares to join NATO.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry held the Russian group Our Victory responsible for the propaganda campaign.
Latest plot twist from Moscow "We are against nazism, but they are not" with signs of Astrid Lindgren, Ingemar Bergman, Ingvar Kamprad (IKEA). pic.twitter.com/Sr1z5iIRQx
— Oscar Jonsson (@OAJonsson) May 3, 2022
“We have no intention of engaging in a public polemic with the Russian organization Our Victory, which is reportedly behind these posters,” a spokesperson for the Swedish foreign ministry said, according to the Daily Mail.
Sweden has not been the only target of Russian accusations of Nazism. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sparked diplomatic outrage this week when he doubled down on accusations of Nazism in Ukraine. “The fact that [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky is Jewish does not negate the Nazi elements in Ukraine. I believe that Hitler also had Jewish blood,” Lavrov said in an interview with Italian news channel Zona Bianca on Sunday.
Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Monday for a discussion on the comments, which Lapid called “unforgivable.” Lapid said Tuesday morning that the Russian government should apologize to Jews and to Holocaust victims for Lavrov’s comments.
Further escalating tensions with Israel on Tuesday, Russia accused Lapid of making “anti-historical statements” that “largely explain why the current Israeli government supports the neo-Nazi regime in Kyiv.”
Moscow has repeatedly sought to justify its invasion of Ukraine by asserting that it is working to counter neo-Nazi forces in the country, a claim dismissed by Western nations as a pretext.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this story.