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OBAMA VISITS SWEDEN

OBAMA

‘It is time for the world to learn of Wallenberg fate’

US President Barack Obama is due to visit Stockholm Synagogue on Wednesday to honour the memory of Raoul Wallenberg and relatives have called for his help in establishing the fate of the deceased Swedish diplomat.

'It is time for the world to learn of Wallenberg fate'

Dear President Obama,

Next year, the world will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Holocaust in Hungary, and by January 2015, seventy years will have passed since Raoul Wallenberg disappeared into the Soviet Union, never to return.

Your official remarks last year and those of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of Raoul Wallenberg’s birth, were unprecedented and deeply moving. Our family was also immensely honoured to accept the award of the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal on Raoul’s behalf.

The decision by President Reagan to grant Raoul Wallenberg honorary US citizenship in 1981 was the spark that allowed the story of his tireless efforts to save the Jews of Budapest in World War II to spread to new generations all around the world.

It is our sincere hope that the U.S. government and you personally will now once again lend much needed support to our continuing efforts to establish the full circumstances of Raoul Wallenberg’s fate.

It is time that the world finally learns what happened to him.

It would be tremendously helpful and important if U.S. diplomats would take up the question of Raoul’s disappearance more directly in formal discussions with Russian authorities. Such a step would have strong symbolic value, to show that the question of his fate continues to matter today, both as a fundamental human rights issue and as a matter of principle.

As recent research findings clearly indicate, this case can be solved and should be solved. True progress in the question is possible if scholars and researchers are finally empowered to do their job.

In particular, researchers need committed support in their efforts to obtain direct and uncensored access to Russian archival collections, especially those of the Soviet era intelligence and security services.

Russian authorities continue to stress that they are willing to assist inquiries in the Wallenberg case.

However, in reality, researchers have to wait six months or more for answers to a single request.

This is not conducive to an effective investigation and not consistent with the rules of transparency, scholarly standards and the provisions of Russian domestic law.

While it is important to do Raoul Wallenberg justice, there is also something bigger at stake: If the world can muster the will to solve the disappearance of a man who fought so hard for so many, then this would be an important gesture to underscore the value of the rights of human beings everywhere, be it in 1944 Hungary or, more recently, in Rwanda, Kosovo, Sudan and now in Syria.

It would be a fitting tribute to all those who risk their lives every day in the defence of civil liberties and to the millions of victims who, in spite of all efforts, could not be saved.

Yours sincerely,

Matilda von Dardel (wife of late Guy von Dardel, half-brother of Raoul)

Nina Lagergren (half-sister of Raoul)

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OBAMA

Obama reveals he wants to work for… Spotify?

Barack Obama may be leaving the White House, but it looks like he's got his future all planned out.

Obama reveals he wants to work for... Spotify?
Barack Obama on a visit to Sweden in 2013. Photo: AP Photo/Frank Augstein

One of Obama's favourite trips abroad was his 2013 visit to Sweden, US tech entrepreneur, podcast editor and former The Local blogger Natalia Brzezinski has revealed the president told her.

She and her husband Mark Brzezinski, who was the US ambassador to Sweden 2011-2015, were invited to the White House on Wednesday evening along with other diplomats appointed by Obama.

“I finally got the chance to thank him for the life-changing appointment to Sweden,” she wrote in a post on Instagram.

“He said word for word: 'I loved visiting you in Stockholm, it was my favourite trip. I plan to go back there really soon'.”

Obama went to Stockholm on an official state visit in 2013. And Brzezinski, the CEO of creative tech festival Symposium Stockholm, revealed she tried to tempt him back to attend its Brilliant Minds conference in June.

He did not promise anything, but did at least urge Brzezinski to “send him the details”.

Obama leaves his post on January 20th, handing over the reins to Republican president-elect Donald Trump. As for the outgoing president's future, it looks like he's got his heart set on a certain Swedish music streaming giant.

“I'm still waiting for my job at Spotify‚Ķ 'cause I know y'all loved my playlist,” Brzezinski quoted him as saying.

We are pretty sure he was joking, but it is not the first time Obama has praised Sweden.

Former prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt revealed in an interview last year that the US president had told him on his visit to Stockholm that he would love to return again with his family.

“Shortly thereafter I met Michelle and Barack Obama again in New York and Michelle confirmed that Barack talked to her about it after his visit to Stockholm. I said I hoped they would find time to return after his presidency,” Reinfeldt told the Aftonbladet tabloid in September.