Russian military intelligence organized and orchestrated a provocation to destabilize Sweden and incite religious riots. The West’s investigative media are convinced that Russia’s GRU agency is behind the Quran-burning operation.
According to the Lansing Institute, this action was intended to thwart Sweden’s NATO integration aspirations, worsen ties with Muslim countries, and pave the way for terror acts by Islamists in Europe.
As a result, the Kremlin also strives to incite protests and violence, raising the risk of international terrorist organizations expanding their operations in Sweden.
A GRU agent incited a far-right activist to burn the Quran
Rasmus Paludan, the head of the Hard Line party, publicly burned the Quran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm on January 21, 2023. According to the Swedish television channel SVT, Chang Johannes Frick, a local journalist, proposed that Paludan burn the Quran.
According to reports, Frick promised that any damage intended to the Hard Line chief due to this provocation would be compensated.
With the help of Chang Johannes Frick, Russian military intelligence most likely manipulated an unknowing Paludan. Frick, according to several indicators, is a Russian spy recruited by the GRU for psyops activities.
The location, outside Turkey’s embassy in Stockholm, was explicitly picked because the act was directed toward Ankara. The operation occurred before Turkey’s defense minister’s scheduled visit to Sweden.
Russian GRU operation in Sweden targeted Turkey
Turkey will hold elections in 2023, while incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan competes with the Arab world for influence over Muslims worldwide.
Following Sweden’s decision to apply for NATO membership in the aftermath of Russia’s all-out war against Ukraine, Turkey demanded that representatives of Kurdish forces and suspects in the 2016 coup d’état case be extradited.
Following Sweden’s decision to apply for NATO membership in the aftermath of Russia’s full scale war against Ukraine, Turkey demanded that representatives of Kurdish forces and suspects in the 2016 coup d’état case be extradited.
Russia aims a preventing Sweden from joining NATO
At the same time, Moscow became nervous about Sweden’s NATO aspirations. As a result, the Kremlin planned an operation to exacerbate tensions between Ankara and Stockholm ahead of Turkey’s impending elections, calculating that an attack on a sacred icon of Islam cannot be overlooked during a campaign.
It is no accident that the riots occurred in the context of reports that Sweden may join NATO, as well as when Moscow threatened Stockholm over its chosen course of action. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, “if Sweden and Finland join NATO, this could lead to “negative implications” for peace in northern Europe.
Media, owned by Frick, Chang Johannes Frick (until 1995 – Chang Georg Lindberg) owns a Nyheter idag online newspaper and hosts a show on SD Riks TV channel. The Sweden Democrats party is funding the program. Numerous indicators point to the man secretly cooperating with and being associated with Russia’s GRU military intelligence.
This connection is apparent, as he previously worked for Russia’s state-owned news agency RT as a “freelancer with regular assignments” for Ruptly, RT’s subsidiary.
Affiliated with Russia’s defense ministry and military intelligence, RT has been actively involved in the false news and misinformation campaign against the EU and Ukraine.
RT actively recruited him for their psyops. In his publications, Frick defended Russia’s invasion of Crimea and war crimes in Syria, praising the Putin administration while consistently attacking the US and NATO. These narratives are entirely consistent with Kremlin propaganda.
Frick’s girlfriend is from Russia
Polina Urvantseva, a Russian native born in Chelyabinsk in July 1989, has been Frick’s partner since 2012. Handling foreign assets with the assistance of young Russian ladies is a long-standing technique promoted by Russian intelligence since the Cold War.
Links with far-right party backed by Moscow
Chang Frick documented a visit to Russia by a legislator from the far-right Swedish Democrats, Pavel Gamov, who has Russian origins, in 2017. According to The New York Times, Russia helped the Sweden Democrats achieve a record-breaking win in parliamentary elections in 2018 by instilling anti-immigrant sentiment and pushing nationalist websites on social media.
According to The New York Times, Russia helped the Sweden Democrats achieve a record win in parliamentary elections in 2018 by instilling anti-immigrant sentiment and pushing nationalist websites on social media.
Frick’s media gave favorable coverage of Russia
Unlike most Western media platforms, Nyheter idag portrayed Russian elections favorably in 2018. Today, Frick’s platform is primarily concerned with disseminating anti-Turkish propaganda throughout Sweden.
Turkey’s suspected oil agreements with the Islamic State, offering asylum to Islamic terrorists, and blackmailing Europe with refugees were highlighted. It prompted Turkey to reject Sweden’s invitation to join NATO.
This media’s editorial policy is likely to reflect the tasks assigned to it by Moscow, depending on its foreign agenda.
Paludan was given the burning act for what reason?
Russia may have chosen Paludan for the prank because he had previously participated in the burning of the Quran in Denmark, Germany, and France, as well as protests against the prophet’s image, which is strictly prohibited in Islam.
Paludan is a Danish politician and the founder of the far-right anti-Islamist political organization Stram Kurs (“Hard Line”), which advocates for a ban on practicing Islam in Denmark and the expulsion of all previous asylum seekers.
Frick’s statement, in which he claims to support Paludan’s stunt, implies an attempt to lessen the consequences for Paludan as an act of promised damage compensation for the executioner.
As a result, the situation was most likely chosen as an active measure as part of a religious provocation. Previously, similar initiatives generated large demonstrations and even terrorist activities, like in the case of the Charlie Hebdo headquarters in France.
Russia destabilizes Europe by utilizing far-right and anti-migrant organizations
Paludan’s far-right ideology and anti-migrant policies fit the Kremlin’s strategy of running intelligence operations within the enormous framework of Europe’s anti-migrant movement, which Moscow has generously nurtured since 2015.
Paludan has long been known among far-right organizations for his anti-migrant marches and Quran-burning acts in ethnic minority-populated areas. He was even found guilty of racism and defamation by a Danish court.
However, the choice of Stockholm and the Turkish embassy goes beyond Paludan’s anti-Islamic strategy. As a result, a foreign player likely used his anti-Islamic behavior to attain political purposes.
Russian propaganda media covered the incident in Sweden
The Russian defense ministry’s TV channel Zvezda covered Paludan’s action on January 24, underlining the deteriorating relations between Sweden and Turkey. As though the channel was anticipating this. Everything seemed as if it were all part of a larger image.
The Koran-burning incident at the Turkish embassy in Stockholm is viewed as a Russian special operations operation directed targeting the national interests of Turkey, Sweden, and Finland, as well as the NATO bloc.
Such aggressive measures by Russian intelligence services show blatant contempt for the feelings of the Muslim world and should not go unanswered.