Soviet-era files reveal Swedes’ civil war fears

Soviet-era files reveal Swedes' civil war fears
Sweden's ambassador in Moscow expressed concerns of a "civil war" in the former Soviet Union in a telex to the Swedish foreign ministry in August 1991, according to secret diplomatic reports released by the agency on Thursday.

“The risk of civil war is palpable” and “The perpatrators of the coup are uncertain and vacillating” were two of the observations made by then-Swedish ambassador in Moscow Örjan Berner in August 1991 in a telex to Sweden’s foreign ministry, according to newspaper Expressen on Thursday.

At the time, a coup had been launched in Moscow and then-President Mikhail Gorbachev had been placed under house arrest.

Sweden’s foreign ministry has decided to publish the reports ahead of the 10th anniversary of the disestablishment of the Soviet Union on December 26th, 1991. The decision was made by Foreign Minister Carl Bildt to help illustrate a dramatic historical event.

“Later today we will release virtually all of our previously secret reporting on fall of Soviet Union and freedom for Baltics 1990 and 1991,” Bildt wrote on Twitter on Thursday morning.

About 400 pages of 30 different diplomatic reports from 1990 and 1991 on the Soviet empire’s collapse and the restoration of independence in the Baltic states, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, were released online on Thursday.

Bildt will present parts of the papers at a seminar at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (Utrikespolitiska Institute, UI) on Thursday afternoon, along with three Swedish ambassadors who were active during the years around the Soviet Union’s fall, the agency said in a statement on Wednesday.

Around 1990, Sweden had an embassy in Moscow and a general consulate in St. Petersburg, then known as Leningrad. There were also two branch offices in Tallinn, Estonia and Riga, Latvia. Bildt called the material its own “UDleaks,” UD being the acronym for utrikesdepartement, or foreign ministry.

A small part of the material will remain secret, including documents containing information that representatives of countries outside the Baltics and Soviet Union had entrusted to Swedish diplomats, to “avoid the risk that unnecessary diplomatic complications arise,” the ministry said on Wednesday.

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