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Council workers in hot water over Russian brothel trip

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17:14 CET+01:00
Winding up a visit to Russia, politicians from southern Sweden made one last - ahem - educational stop. The booze-soaked visit to a brothel has now landed two civil servants in hot water.

The story only came to light when one of the men told the head of Tingsryd council, Ann-Christine Vösu, that someone was trying to blackmail him. She decided to nip the story in the bud and told Göteborgs-Posten only that the police have been informed.

Alas, once the tabloids got hold of it, the bud blossomed.

The civil servants travelled to Mamonovo and Kaliningrad in Russia at the end of October as part of a two-year project partially funded by Sida, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. The project's objective is to establish youth recreation centres and prevent alcoholism among teenagers.

The civil servants apparently went to a sauna party in Mamonovo with fire department officials and another in Kaliningrad, where - unbeknownst to the unwitting Swedes - the sauna turned out to be a brothel.

Swedish Radio reported that the men "made a hasty exit" and that they deny buying sexual services. At a press conference on Monday they said they were "tricked by their hosts and didn't know there were prostitutes in the place".

One of them then revealed that a Russian woman, "previously employed as an interpreter by the council", tried to blackmail him for 10,000 crowns to keep the story out of the press.

Police are deciding whether the Russian woman will face prosecution, but she told Swedish Radio she was "only joking" when she asked the council leader how much it was worth to keep the story quiet.

But as far as Tingsryd council is concerned, the incident is no joke. They may lose their funding for the project, according to Expressen.

The paper spoke to Björn Jonzon, president of Sala Ida AB, the administrator of Sida's funding in that region: "If they've mishandled money they won't get any more," he said, and made it clear that the organisation would go through the two men's accounts very carefully.

The brothel visit is at least behind a (red) curtain, but a Swedish girl and her Norwegian boyfriend have been fined 20,000 crowns for having sex on stage at a music festival in the summer. The daring duo claimed that their exhibitionism was designed to draw attention to the rainforests and to raise money through their web site.

Expressen reported that Petra Leona Johansson and Tommy Hol Ellingsen - under the auspicious name "Fuck for forest", in case you'd like to donate - clambered up on stage at the Quart festival and got it on, while rock band Kristopher Schaus provided audio backup.

The band said they didn't know anything about the stunt - but have also been fined 10,000 crowns.

Sources: Expressen, Göteborgs Posten, SR

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