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Monday, July 22, 2024

Sweden Trims Funding to Russian Church Amid Intelligence Alerts

The Swedish Agency for Support for Faith Communities announced a reduction in financial assistance to the Moscow Patriarchate, also known as the church, citing a failure to meet “democracy criteria.” The agency stated that Sweden’s Security Service (Säpo) believed the church served as a platform for the Russian state’s intelligence and security-related activities.

According to the agency’s statement, the Swedish Security Service expressed concern about representatives of the religious community having connections with individuals affiliated with Russian security and intelligence services. The agency pointed out that substantial funding from the Russian state had been received by the church, and its representatives were observed behaving in a manner that appeared to endorse “support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Additionally, the agency highlighted the Moscow Patriarchate’s denial of the allegations made against it. The church, which was already one of the smaller recipients of faith-based institution grants, received just under 200,000 kronor ($19,300) from the Swedish state in 2022.

Also Read: Ukraine Shoots Down Three More Russian Warplanes

In its recent annual assessment, Säpo identified Russia as one of the primary threats to Sweden. Notably, a former Swedish intelligence officer received a life sentence in January 2023 for spying on behalf of Russia. Furthermore, in September, a Russian-Swedish national faced trial for allegedly transferring Western technology to Russia’s military. Although a Stockholm court acknowledged the material export, it concluded that the actions did not amount to intelligence gathering.

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Sweden, after maintaining two centuries of military non-alignment, applied for NATO membership. With Hungary’s recent ratification, Sweden is poised to become a full member within days.

John Collins
John Collins
John is an esteemed journalist and author renowned for their incisive reporting and deep insights into global affairs. As a prominent contributor to City Telegraph, John brings over 5 years of experience covering diverse geopolitical landscapes, from the corridors of power in major capitals to the frontlines of conflict zones.

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