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Today in Sweden: a roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

Find out what's going on in Sweden today with The Local's short roundup of the news in less than five minutes.

Today in Sweden: a roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
School gates in Solna. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Sweden launch investigation into Ukraine war crimes

On Tuesday, Sweden opened an investigation into suspected war crimes in Ukraine, encouraging witnesses and victims to come forward in order to secure evidence for potential future prosecutions, prosecutors said.

“Given the information that is available about the situation in Ukraine, there is reason to believe that grave war crimes are being committed,” the Swedish Prosecution Authority said in a statement, adding that preliminary investigation had been opened.

The authority said that currently no individual was suspected of a crime. “The purpose is to as early as possible secure evidence that could be available in Sweden so that it could be used in future legal proceedings, either in Sweden, another country’s court or in an international court such as the International Criminal Court, ICC.”

Last month the ICC launched its own probe into possible war crimes in Ukraine.

For war crimes Sweden applies a principle of universal jurisdiction, meaning that its courts can try a person on serious charges such as murder or war crimes regardless of where the alleged offences took place.

Swedish vocabulary: krigsförbrytelse – war crime

Government wants to make it easier to build wind farms

The government is moving forwards with a proposal to speed up the process of approving new wind farm sites. An investigation will also consider the prospect of paying out a bonus to municipalities who agree to building wind farms.

Environment minister Annika Strandhäll will discuss the proposal in a press conference today.

The proposal is expected to make it harder for municipalities to say no to new wind farms at a late stage in the process, which would make new applications more predictable, according to the government.

However, the topic is controversial, and opposition to wind power has increased. At the same time, it has been highlighted as playing a crucial part in the switch from oil to renewable energy.

According to a report from the Energy Authority, around half of wind farm projects planned since 2014 were approved, but opposition has increased in recent years.

“Money should be coming into the municipalities who build wind farms, and I am going to start a rapid investigation on proposals for economic encouragement for municipalities and local communities,” Strandhäll told public service broadcaster SVT Nyheter in March.

Swedish vocabulary: vindkraftverk – wind farm

Sweden expels three Russian diplomats in protest at alleged war crimes

Sweden’s foreign minister, Ann Linde, said at a press conference that it was “clear that war crimes had been committed” in Bucha and other cities in Ukraine, and said that the pictures of dead bodies that had been circulated in recent days were “deeply shocking”.

She said the three diplomats had been chosen because “it is absolutely clear that they are involved in illegal espionage activities in Sweden”. As a result, she said they were not working in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

As well as expelling the diplomats, Sweden has also summoned Russia’s ambassador to the foreign ministry.

The decision makes Sweden the tenth country in the European Union to expel Russian diplomats in protest at alleged war crimes committed by Russian troops in towns and cities they have occupied in Ukraine.

Swedish vocabulary: spioneri – espionage

Parents with foreign names discriminated against when choosing schools

A new study from the University of Uppsala shows that highly educated parents and parents with Swedish names receive a more positive response when contacting schools for information.

In one of the largest discrimination experiments ever carried out in Sweden, 3,430 primary schools were contacted via email by a false parent who wanted to know more about the school. The parent left information about their name and profession.

“Highly-educated parents received more friendly and welcoming answers,” Jonas Larsson Taghizadeh, researcher of political science at the University of Uppsala told TT newswire.

“They were more often told that there was a place at the school and received more positive information on the school.”

In the email, the false parent stated that they were interested in placing their child at the school, and questions were asked about the school’s profile, queue length, and how the application process worked. The parent was either low-educated (nursing assistant) or highly educated (dentist). Some parents gave Swedish names and others gave “Arabic-sounding” names.

“There have been a lot of discrimination experiments in Sweden and abroad to do with the labour market, and there is a lot of research on ethnic discrimination, but much less on schools, education and socioeconomic discrimination,” Taghizadeh said.

Swedish vocabulary: diskriminering – discrimination

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Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

Magdalena Andersson in the US, property prices drop and Turkey's Nato objections. Here's Sweden's news on Thursday.

Today in Sweden: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson to visit US President Biden

Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson is in Washington today alongside Finland’s president Sauli Niinistö. The two will visit US President Joe Biden to discuss the war in Ukraine and Turkey’s opposition to their Nato applications, which were handed in yesterday.

“The meeting is an important security policy signal,” Andersson wrote on her Instagram account from Washington DC.

The two Nordic leaders boarded the flight to Washington DC shortly after their Nato ambassadors applied to join the alliance.

At the meeting in the White House today, the delicate security situation in both Finland and Sweden will be discussed. A number of countries, including the USA, have stated that they will support Sweden and Finland in the period before their Nato applications are approved by all member states in the alliance.

A final approval could take up to a year, and Russia is expected to react to the two countries joining Nato in some way.

Sweden and Finland’s decision to join the Nato alliance was applauded by Ukrainians taking part in a demonstration outside the White House.

Swedish vocabulary: stöd – support

Property prices plummet after central bank increases inflation rate

Property prices have dropped after the Swedish central bank increased inflation rates.

At the same time, the amount of apartments on property website Hemnet has increased to a record level, as sellers seek to get their property on the market quickly.

Valueguard’s price index, which measures changes in prices, sank by 1.7 percent in the two first weeks of May in the Stockholm region. In Gothenburg, prices decreased by 1.3 when compared with April.

This is the first property price measurement in May since the central bank decided to increase key index rates by 0.25 percent while also sharply raising their interest rate forecast.

Having said that, there was also a decrease in property prices in April – 0.3 percent for apartments and 0.5 percent for houses.

Swedish vocabulary: en nedgång – a decrease

Turkish president Erdogan urges Nato to ‘respect’ concerns over Sweden joining

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has threatened to block Finland and Sweden from joining Nato, urged the alliance’s members on Wednesday to “respect” Ankara’s concerns about the two countries, which Turkey accuses of harbouring terrorists.

“Our only expectation from Nato allies is… to first understand our sensitivity, respect and finally support it,” Erdogan told his party’s legislators in parliament.

Finland and Sweden submitted a joint application to join Nato on Wednesday May 18th as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forces a dramatic reappraisal of security in Europe.

Erdogan accused Stockholm of providing safe haven to members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) designated as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.

“We asked them to extradite 30 terrorists but they refused to do so,” he said.

“You will not send back the terrorists to us and then ask our support for your Nato membership … We cannot say ‘yes’ to make this security organisation being lacking in security,” he added.

Swedish vocab: terrorister – terrorists