Russia rues ‘unfortunate’ Norway invasion series

Russia has protested the “unfortunate” decision to portray it as the aggressor in "Okkupert" or "Occupied”, the 90m Norwegian kroner TV mini-series conceived of by the crime writer Jo Nesbø.

Russia rues 'unfortunate' Norway invasion series
A scene from TV2's trailer. Photo: Screen Grab
The drama follows Norway’s occupation by the Russian army, with the support of the broader international community, after a radical environmental party is voted into power and halts all oil and gas production. 
On Tuesday, TV2 released a trailer for the series, which will premiere on Norway’s TV2 channel on September 27.  
“Russia is unfortunately presented as the aggressor,” Andrey Kulikov, a press officer at the Russian embassy in Oslo told TV2 of the series. 
“It is of course a pity that on the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II,” he adds, “the show’s writers decide to intimidate Norwegian viewers with a non-existent threat from the East.” 
In the story, the Russian occupiers, while keeping control over the oil and gas industry, otherwise allow daily life to continue more or less as normal.
Nesbø wrote the first episodes for the series back in 2008, long  before Russia’s annexation of Crimea made the idea of a Russian invasion of northern Norway, or the Swedish island of Gotland suddenly feel very real.   
But the Norwegian state broadcaster NRK dropped the series, after which TV2 stepped in. 
While some of the plot ideas come from Nesbø’s original scripts, the final version was written by Kari Anne Lund and Erik Skjoldbjærg, the series’ director, who also shot the Hollywood film Prozac Nation. 
The series has been made in collaboration with Yellow Bird, the Swedish production studio behind the Wallander detective series and the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films. 
It is Norway’s most expensive TV series to date, costing well over twice the 36m kroner budget of Mammon, the country’s last internationally exported TV drama. 
The series has already been sold the UK, where the success of Danish dramas such as The Killing and Borgen has established a niche for Scandinavian TV drama, and in Germany, France, Seden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and the Benelux countries. 
Kulikov said that the decision to portray Russia so negatively in an anniversary year, made it seen “as if they have forgotten about the heroism of the Soviet Army in the liberation of Northern Norway from Nazi occupiers.” 
However, he said Russia would not respond to the series with formal protests or reprisals. 
“One should not expect any hysteria from the Russian side in this regard – it is not our style.”

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Norway accuses Russia over cyber attack on parliament

Norway's government on Tuesday said that it believes Russia was behind an August cyber attack targeting the email system of the country's parliament.

Norway accuses Russia over cyber attack on parliament
The parliament building in Oslo. File photo: AFP

The attack was detected in August, when Norway announced hackers had attacked the parliament's email system, gaining access to some lawmakers' messages.

“Based on the information the government has, it is our view that Russia is responsible for these activities,” foreign minister Ine Eriksen Søreide said in a statement.

The foreign ministry did not specify what information prompted its conclusions, but encouraged companies to follow guidelines on cyber security.

“This is a very serious incident, affecting our most important democratic institution,” she added.

In its annual threat assessment published in February, Norway's PST domestic intelligence service warned of “computer network operations” which they said represented a “persistent and long-term threat to Norway”.

In 2018, NATO member Norway arrested a Russian national suspected of gathering information on the parliament's internet network, but released him several weeks later due to lack of evidence.

The two countries, which share a common border in the Arctic, have generally enjoyed good relations but those have become strained since Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

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