Kremlin connection to thwart Sweden’s hopes of joining NATO
A far-right journalist with ties to the Kremlin orchestrated the Koran-burning stunt that has threatened Sweden’s bid to join NATO.
Hang Frick, who previously worked for RT and sister agency Ruptly, paid the administration fee for the demonstration outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm where Rasmus Paludan, a Danish far-right politician, set the holy book on fire.
Mr. Frick’s Twitter feed includes images of him posing in a Putin t-shirt and showing a Putin calendar.
The 39-year-old’s involvement has sparked fears that Russia may have planned the incident to disrupt NATO’s expansion.
After the Koran was burned, Turkey immediately canceled a visit to Ankara by Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jannson and threatened to block NATO membership.
Mr Paludan, who also has Swedish citizenship, has previously sparked unrest in Sweden by announcing a “Quran burning tour” during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
But he told Swedish media that Mr Frick, who runs right-wing populist site Nyheter Idag and hosts a show on a TV channel funded by the nationalist Sweden Democrats, paid for the stunt. He said Mr Frick even promised to cover any damage Mr Paludan suffered as a result.
In 2019 is the New York Times introduced Mr. Frick in a report on how the Kremlin befriended and amplified divisive voices in Sweden.
Herr Frick accused the New York Times the misrepresentation on Twitter following the publication of the article claiming that RT is his customer but not his employer.
Mr Frick, who was in a relationship with a Russian woman at the time, told the newspaper he had been invited to observe the Russian election and meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
While Mr. Frick denied working for Russia, he jokingly picked up a wad of rubles from a trip to the country and said, “Here’s my real boss! This is Putin.”
Analysts said Mr Frick’s involvement in the Koran burning pointed to a possible direction from Moscow.
“The person who will benefit most from NATO not expanding east towards the Russian border is Putin,” said Paul Levin of the Institute for Turkish Studies at Stockholm University.
Although there was not yet enough evidence to establish causality, Mr Levin said it was “suspicious” nonetheless.
“It has some of the flavors of possible Russian action,” he told the telegraph.
Swedish newspaper sir was the first to report Mr Frick’s connection to the protest against the burning of the Koran.
Mr Frick, who denies working for RT after 2014, told the newspaper he only paid for the permit to support freedom of expression and claimed the protest was organized from a reporter Exactly 24, another right-wing publication. But the reporter for Exactly 24 insisted Mr Frick was the main organizer of the protest.
He denied trying to sabotage the Nato application, telling Swedish journalists: “If I sabotaged the application by paying 320 kroner as an administration fee to the police, it was probably on very shaky ground from the start. “
Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership in May.
New members are accepted into NATO by consensus of existing members, which gives Turkey a veto.
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/europe/kremlin-link-to-bid-to-thwart-swedens-hopes-of-joining-nato-42315086.html Kremlin connection to thwart Sweden’s hopes of joining NATO