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Police out in force as Almedalen week kicks off

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Police out in force as Almedalen week kicks off
16:49 CEST+02:00
Sweden's annual political week, the "Almedalen Week" started on Sunday on the Baltic island of Gotland with police launching their largest operation to date.

The eight day mingle and canapés event in the picturesque setting of Visby continues to grow in popularity and Security Service (Säpo) resources are thus in high demand.

"Our response will depend on how many people needing security are in place in Almedalen and it is usually around 200 people," said Sara Kvarnstrom at Säpo.

The Security Service presence is mostly made up by bodyguards, as well as analysts, security drivers and intelligence officers.

Almedalen week is a particularly busy period for local Gotland police which receives reinforcements from Stockholm.

The event first began in 1968 when Sweden's then prime minister, Olof Palme, was due to take the ferry home from a summer holiday on Gotland.

Local residents asked if he could stay a moment and give a speech. Standing on the back of a nearby truck, Palme spoke to the small crowd, thus beginning what was to become an annual Swedish tradition.

Some 43 years on, things have evolved enormously. The solitary speaker (and the truck) is long gone, and the event has become a platform for Swedish politicians from every party to have a voice.

Each parliamentary party is given a designated day to present its platform and this year's week is opened by the Sweden Democrats (SD).

SD party leader Jimmie Åkesson is due to speak this evening and despite being one of Sweden's most heavily guarded politicians, is not unduly concerned over the security situation in Almedalen.

"I feel safe. I trust the police and Security Service and is also pleased with the good cooperation between the police and the party's security department," he said in a statement.

Åkesson however bemoaned the existing threat against politicians in Sweden.

"The big problem is that there is a threat against politicians in general, regardless of party or opinion, and whether you are a party leader or engaged on any other level."

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