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RUSSIA

Family of Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg sues Russia’s security service

The family of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II before disappearing under Soviet rule, are suing Russia's security service for access to its files, their lawyer said on Thursday.

Family of Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg sues Russia's security service
Wallenberg, who saved thousands of Jews during World War II, was posthumously presented with a Congressonal Gold Medal by the US Congress in 2014. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

“The relatives of Wallenberg filed the lawsuit at the Meshchansky court in the Russian capital on Wednesday,” their lawyer Ivan Pavlov told AFP.

The Wallenberg family “wants to force the FSB (the successor to the KGB) to give it access to the originals of the documents” that concern Wallenberg's fate, Pavlov said.

He said that Wallenberg's relatives have made many attempts to gain access to the FSB archives dating back to the Soviet era. These were either rejected or the documents they received were incomplete, Pavlov said.

“This case isn't just about the possibility of restoring the memory of a remarkable person. It is also yet another attempt to fight the inacessibility of the FSB archives,” the lawyer said.

As a special envoy in Nazi-controlled Hungary, Wallenberg issued Swedish identity papers to tens of thousands of Jews, allowing them to flee occupied Hungary and likely death.

But when the Soviets entered Budapest months before the war ended, they summoned Wallenberg to their headquarters in January 1945, after which he disappeared, aged 32.

READ ALSO: Raoul Wallenberg, Sweden's not-so-favourite son

In 1957, the Soviet Union released a document saying Wallenberg had been jailed in the Lubyanka prison, the notorious building where the KGB security services were headquartered, and that he died of heart failure on July 17, 1947.

But his family refused to accept that version of events, and for decades have been trying to establish what happened to him.

In 2000 the head of a Russian investigative commission conceded Wallenberg had been shot and killed by KGB agents in Lubyanka in 1947 for political reasons, but declined to be more specific or to cite hard evidence.

Last year Sweden officially declared Wallenberg dead, but his body has never been returned to his family.

READ ALSO: Sweden declares official date of death for Holocaust hero Wallenberg

MILITARY

Sweden steps up Baltic defence in ‘signal’ to Russia

Sweden's defence minister has said his country is carrying out military exercises in the Baltic Sea to 'send a signal' to countries including Russia.

Sweden steps up Baltic defence in 'signal' to Russia
Swedish troops on the Baltic Sea island of Gotland. Photo: Joel Thungren/Försvarsmakten/TT

The so-called “high readiness action” means the Swedish army, navy and air force are currently more visible in the southeastern and southern Baltic Sea and on the island of Gotland.

No details have been disclosed about the number of troops involved in the action.

Sweden is “sending a signal both to our Western partners and to the Russian side that we are prepared to defend Sweden's sovereignty,” Hultqvist told news agency TT.


Ground troops on Gotland. Photo: Bezhav Mahmoud/Försvarsmakten/TT

“There is currently extensive military activity in the Baltic Sea, conducted by Russian as well as Western players, on a scale the likes of which have not been seen since the Cold War,” the Swedish Armed Forces' Commander of Joint Operations, Jan Thörnqvist, said in a statement.

“The exercise activities are more complex and have arisen more rapidly than before. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic has caused global anxiety and uncertainty. Over all, the situation is more unstable and more difficult to predict,” Thörnqvist said.


A Visby-class corvette and two Jas Gripen jets in the air. Photo: Antonia Sehlstedt/Försvarsmakten/TT

Hultqvist said Sweden was also monitoring developments in Belarus “very closely”.

Non-Nato member Sweden, which has not been to war in two centuries and which slashed military spending at the end of the Cold War, reopened a garrison on Gotland in January 2018 amid concerns about Russian intentions in Europe and the Baltic.

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