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RUSSIA

Russian fury over Norway occupation show hits Sweden

Russia has slammed Sweden for broadcasting a television series about Russia's fictional takeover of Norway, saying it has had enough of being portrayed as an aggressor.

Russian fury over Norway occupation show hits Sweden
A press image of TV series 'Occupied'. Photo: Aksel Jermstad/Yellow Bird
The drama 'Okkupert' ('Occupied', or 'Ockupationen' in Swedish) follows Norway's occupation by the Russian army after a radical environmental party is voted into power and halts all oil and gas production.
 
Aired in the autumn on Norway's TV2 channel, the series aired for the first time in Sweden this week.
 
And not everyone is a fan of one of Scandinavia's most recent drama hits.
 
In a strongly worded statement on its Facebook page, the Russian Embassy in Stockholm writes that “although the author of an artwork enjoy artistic freedom, this must not promote various forms of fear and instilling anti-Russian myths and prejudices”.
 
It continues that it “hopes that an inquisitive and demanding Swedish viewer who knows their historical realities will give an adequate rating to the attempt to paint Russia as some kind of mean and dangerous neighbour”.
 
The television series, originally conceived by Nordic Noir writer Jo Nesbø, first sparked a stir last summer, when the trailer was released in Norway. Russia then protested the decision to paint it “as the aggressor” and accused it of intimidating Scandinavian viewers “with a non-existent threat from the East”.
 
Sweden's state broadcaster SVT said it had expected that launching the series in Sweden would draw criticism, but defended its decision in a comment to the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
 
“The series consists of infinitely much more. This is a fictional depiction of a possible future scenario, where the EU is experiencing a crisis and how it affects all countries. That type of story of course of course evokes both criticism and emotion and that's how it should be. Commenting on the state of affairs and inspiring debate is part of our mission,” drama head Christian Wikander said.
 
The series comes amid an uptick in tensions between Sweden and the Nordic countries, with the intelligence agencies of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, having all placed Russian aggression near the top of their respective national security challenges. 
 
The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) wrote in its annual threat assessment that Russian spies have major “damage potential” for Norwegian interests
 
However, the first episodes for the 10-part 'Okkupert' were written by Nesbø back in 2008, long before Russia's annexation of Crimea made the idea of an invasion of northern Norway, the Swedish island of Gotland or the Danish island of Bornholm suddenly feel very real to many Scandinavians.
 
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. 
 
It is Norway’s most expensive TV series to date, costing well over twice the 36 million kroner budget of Mammon, the country’s last internationally exported TV drama, and follows the success of other Scandinavia Nordic Noir series, such as 'The Bridge' and 'The Killing'.

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RUSSIA

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.

READ ALSO: Norway's parliament attacked by hackers

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