The Nordic Reporter

Stories from Scandinavia, Poland and the Baltics

News in brief 2023Q4 – from Scandinavia, Poland and the Baltic States

SWEDEN, 14 DEC 2023: Five workers died when a temporary lift at a construction site in Stockholm suburb Sundyberg crashed down from a 20 metres height. Among them were at least two Ukrainian workers. Polish, Estonian, Lithuanian, Latvian and Ukrainian workers are a common site in Swedish new-build areas. A first inspection by the lift manufacturer apparently showed that it was not constructed right, Swedish media reports.

SWEDEN, 10 DEC 2023: Three teenage boys were shot and wounded in the Hövsjö area of Södertälje, south of Stockholm, on Saturday. Police have arrested three youngsters suspected of carrying out the attack. The police said in a statement they suspect a conflict between two gangs is behind the incident. A man in his mid-twenties was shot and wounded in the Sätra area of Southern Stockholm on Friday, police report.

SWEDEN, 18 NOV 2023: A 35-year-old man has been shot in an apartment building in the Skallberget area of Västerås. He was later announced death in hospital. According to police sources to Swedish media, the killed was known as a bomb maker. So far nobody has been arrested for the shooting.

ESTONIA, 17 NOV 2023: The French company Corsica Sole plans to build some of Europe’s most powerful battery parks in Estonia: one in Kiisa and one in Aruküla, two villages 30 kilometres apart near the capital of Tallinn. Each of the battery parks has a planned capacity of 100 MW. Estonia’s highest electricity consumption has been 1,591 MW at a given time.

SWEDEN, 15 NOV 2023: The Swedish armed forces have confirmed that the weapons training of 100 Ukrainian troops on the Archer 155-mm artillery system has been completed, and that they are ready to be deployed back in Ukraine. The Archer is a Swedish-designed system of a self-propelled howitzer on a wheeled truck. It has been developed and built by BAe Systems-owned Bofors. Eight of them have been donated to Ukraine. The Swedish armed forces operate 24 of them, while the British army has 14.

NORWAY, 15 NOV 2023: The Norwegian government announced on Wednesday it will invest NOK 12.5 billion (about EUR 1.07 billion) in upgrading and expanding the air defence network of the Scandinavian country. Norway has a credible indigenous development of surface-to-air missile systems. The NASAMS made by Norwegian defence corp. Kongsberg has been exported to a dozen countries, including the United States that uses the system to protect high-value locations in Washington DC. The US government has even been bought the NASAMS for delivery to the Ukrainian armed forces.

NORWAY, 14 NOV 2023: People in Northern Norway are upset as the regional medical authorities are planning to close the only hospital on the Lofoten islands, and scale down the existing, alternative hospital in Narvik. Helse Nord’s plan is met by a lot of concerned inhabitants of the area.

LATVIA, 13 NOV 2023: Latvian airline AirBaltic announced the purchase of 30 Airbus A220-300 aircraft, with options on another 20. With the order the fleet is planned to expand to a 100 aircraft of the type, making it the largest A220-300 operator in the world.

LATVIA, 13 NOV 2023: The birthrate in Latvia has dropped by 13,9% (1,741 children) in the first 10 months of 2023 compared to the same period last year. According to the Latvian Central Statistical Bureau (CSB) it is a new low-record in a century. Calculating in the number of deaths the Latvian population has declined by 9,500 from January till September.

SWEDEN, 13 NOV 2023: Swedish police have arrested four young suspects for the attempting killing on Sunday in the Barrsätra area of Sandviken, west of the city of Gävle. Two of the suspects are 18 year old. The other two are 19- and 21-year old. The victim was shot around 06:30 local time on Sunday morning, and was severely wounded.

SWEDEN, 12 NOV 2023: Police in the northern Swedish city of Sundsvall have released more details on the find of two heavily wounded boys in July. The 16- and 14-year-olds knocked on a door of a house, and wound pressure with towels by the house owners stopped the boys from bleeding to death. The police now holds the boys as suspects for an attempted assassination assignment that turned against them by the potential target. According to the police the boys were tortured for hours.

SWEDEN, 10 NOV 2023: Three men in their twenties have been convicted to life imprisonment for the shooting and killing of a 25-year-old in Söderhamn last year. A 20-year-old was severely wounded in the same shooting. The incident was part of an ongoing turf war of narcotics dealing gangs in the Hälsingland region of Sweden, police says. Three suspects were convicted to 1 to 3 years in jail for aiding in the crime. A seventh suspect, a 32-year-old woman who was romantically involved with one of the convicted, was sentenced to community service. A life sentence in Sweden means convicts will spend 18 to 25 years behind bars.

SWEDEN, 9 NOV 2023: An employee of the Swedish micro-market chain Pressbyrån was shot and severely wounded in the store in Gothenburg on Wednesday night. Police was quick in bringing in 10 people for interrogation, but has so far not accused anybody of the crime yet.

SWEDEN, 8 NOV 2023: In Sweden 159 kids were abducted last year, according to statistics and reporting by investigative TV programme Uppdrag granskning (SVT). Forty percent of them were boys.

SWEDEN, 5 NOV 2023: The leader of the so-called Foxtrot Network, Rawa M. aka The Kurdish Fox, has been arrested while attempting to cross the border from Turkey into Iran, Swedish media report. Rawa M. is seen as the mastermind behind a wave of shootings and bombings in Sweden, mainly in the Stockholm/Uppsala region, that has left at least 15, often innocent, bystanders dead since September. In October arrests of gangsters with Swedish nationality or double nationality were also made in Iraq (1), Serbia (1), Turkey (1) and Tunesia (5).

DENMARK, 3 NOV 2023: Danish-based, giant shipping company Maersk has sailed into stormy weather. The company’s income dropped by 94 percent in a year time. That is the conclusion after Maersk published the results for 2023Q3: USD 489 million in income versus USD 8.82 billion the year before. After COVID the world’s economies are somewhat back on track, and demand for sea container space is less high than before. In reaction to the reduced profitability, Maersk has layed off 6,500 staff, with another 3,500 to follow.

SWEDEN, 2 NOV 2023: The board leader of the Swedish Nobel Prize foundation, Vidar Helgesen, is stepping down, after a year of stormy weather. Earlier this year, Helgesen was leading in the decision that the Nobel Prize ceremony organiser would invite the ambassadors of Russia, Iran and Belarus as well. Strong political and public pressure, made the organisation come back on this decision. Helgesen has accepted a new job as Chairman for the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, and Assisting Director for UNESCO.

SWEDEN, 2 NOV 2023: Sweden buys a newer version of the US-made AIM-120 AMRAAM medium-distance air-to-air missile. Designated Robot 99 Amraam in Swedish service, they will expand the combat capabilities of the indigenous SAAB JAS 39 multi-role fighter of the Swedish Air Force. The deal is worth USD 605 million.

ESTONIA, 1 NOV 2023: Estonian state-owned airline Nordica is bleeding cash. Despite a 30 percent revenue increase this year, the company reported a net loss of EUR 11.9 million in the first three quarters of 2023. Challenges include long maintenance downtime of its aircraft and lack of personnel. Nordica received six new aircraft: two ATR 72-600 and three Airbus A320s. Nordica’s fleet now comprises of nine ATR 72-600s, three Airbus A320s and nine Bombardier CRJ 900s.

NORWAY, 1 NOV 2023: Norwegian “quality” salmon from “clean” fjords is not doing so well. Footage has surfaced of many dead fish with the Lerøy Seafood Group, one of the giants in lax farming. A company spokesperson confirmed to Norwegian broadcasting company NRK that many salmon died of respiratory illnesses, parasites and heart failure.

FINLAND, 1 NOV 2023: Finnish airline Finnair is celebrating a 100 years of existence on 1 November 2023. Originally named Aero, the company initially flew mail between Helsinki and Tallinn in Estonia. Later it grew to a strong European airline on Asia, with Helsinki as a stop-over for many flights. Currently, Finnair is still recovering from the COVID period. The board announced a new shares emission of EUR 570 million this month, to help combatting EUR 2 billion in debt. One of the bigger challenges for the company is its ageing fleet of aircraft. | © 2023 Marcel Burger,

SWEDEN, 28 OCT 2023: Swedish computer games maker Paradox, headquartered in Stockholm, has launched its newest city simulator, Cities Skylines 2, seven years after the first edition of the game was a big hit. More than 20 million users have been playing the first edition. Cities Skylines 2 has much improved graphics and possibilities, and makes it able for the fans to design, plan and run their own simulated cities – including the economy and people’s wellbeing.

LITHUANIA, 27 OCT 2023: The Lithuanian Interior Ministry will be testing closing of all its borders with Belarus. Right now, two of the six border crossings are closed, as Lithuania is trying to limit the influx from Putin-friend Belarus. The authorities want to run the full exercise as to learn what can be improved when they would order the full closure of the borders.

SWEDEN, 27 OCT 2023: Swedish police have arrested three suspects of the bombing late Thursday evening 26 October of a row-house in Satlsjö-Bo, in the municipality of Nacka near Stockholm. Two of the suspects are under age, the police confirmed. The detonation damaged the front and entrance of the house, but none of the several people inside was physically hurt.

SWEDEN, 27 OCT 2023: The Swedish Home Defence (Hemvärnet) has mobilized 30 of its troops to assist in the operation underway to clean a big oil contamination that the ferry Marco Polo has caused after it ran aground in the bay of Pukavik, southern Sweden. The Swedish Coast Guard so far has cleard 21 cubic metres of oil, both from the Baltic Sea as well as beaches, but estimates another 300 cubic metres is left in the vessel’s fuel tanks. TT-Lines’ Marco Polo was on its way from Trelleborg to Karlshamn, both on the Swedish south coast, when it hit the ground. None of the 41 passengers and 29 crew were physically hurt. The Swedish Coast Guard has confirmed the vessel went of course, but has not given any detail yet as long as the investigation in the incident continues. The Marco Polo is a roll-on/roll-off ferry with three vehicle decks. It can accommodate up to 215 passengers. Acccording to TT-Lines the Marco Polo was built by the Van der Giessen-De Noord shipyard in the Netherlands and commissioned in April 1993, and used in the Mediterranean. The Remontowa shipyard in Gdańsk rebuilt the vessel in 2019 for use in the Baltic Sea.

LATVIA, 27 OCT 2023: Latvia has become the biggest EU importer Russian grains, despite EU sanctions, Latvian national broadcasting company Ilze Nagla reports. The problems for Ukraine getting its agricultural produce exported, is a gain for Russia. E.g. Russian wheat has now a market share of 24%, compared to 16% before Putin launched his full scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. For Latvia the Russian grain imports have increased from 11% to 34%. According to the Latvian media, the country’s State Security Service is or has been investigating if any wrongdoing is involved.

NORWAY, 26 OCT 2023: 78 years after they went down, underwater robots have confirmed two Nazi-German airplanes deep underneath the water surface. A Blohm & Voss BV 222 transport aircraft went down in the Trondheim fjord in 1945. It was found on 318 metres (1043 ft) deep. A little bit further away a Heinkel HE 115 was found, at a depth of 253 metres (830 ft). The wreckages were first discovered by a team of the Norwegian navy, after which Blueye Robotics send small underwater drones to identify them. According to the Norwegian broadcasting company NRK there are no plans to salvage the war graves.

DENMARK, 25 OCT 2023: The first F-16 combat jets that Denmark is gifting to Ukraine, will fly in Ukrainian skies in April 2024, the Danish Defence Minister Troels Lund Poulsen has said, according to Danish Radio (DR). Denmark, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands have all promised to ship their decommissioned F-16s to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The United States might follow suit. Already, Ukrainian Air Force pilots are training on the type in Denmark, the Netherlands and the United States.

SWEDEN, 25 OCT 2023: Seven suspects are being indicted with at least two bombings in the Stockholm area last year. The detonations took place on 27 December in Enskededalen and 31 December in Rågsved. Two of the suspects are 19 and 22 years old and according to Swedish broadcasting company SVT confirmed members of the Foxtrot organised crime network of the gang leader commonly known as “the Kurdish Fox”. Police have also arrested a 40-year-old man and a woman in her twenties or thirties for aiding in the detonation of another explosive at an apartment building in Enskededalen in Stockholm on 23 October. Meanwhile, five men with a Swedish passport have been arrested by Tunisian police. Swedish media have connected them to the Foxtrot network, but the Swedish Foreign Ministry has not confirmed or denied this.

SWEDEN, 19 OCT 2023: The Swedish national security police (Säpo) has arrested a former high-ranking military officer and his wife, suspected of treason alternatively crimes against the safety of the nation. During a search of their home in the Stockholm area, officers confiscated technical equipment, the public prosecutor has confirmed. Swedish newspaper Expressen had the scoop of this story and reports the arrests were made on 17 October. According to the couple’s lawyer, the two deny any wrongdoing.

LITHUANIA, 18 OCT 2023: The armed forces of Lithuania have started repairing Leopard tanks that were damaged on the battle fields in Ukraine, the Ministry of Defence in Vilnius has announced. How many of the German-made tanks are being repaired is not disclosed. Earlier, Lithuania hosted the repair of a PzH2000 self-propelled howitzer that was damaged in combat. Ukrainian mechanics are also trained in Lithuania to take care of the military hardware themselves. The announcement is interesting as Lithuania does own PzH2000 howitzers, but no Leopard tanks yet. For the latter they quite likely got German help, or it means their armed forces already have the technicians to repair and maintain the tanks it seeks itself.

SWEDEN, 18 OCT 2023: Swedish police have arrested a suspect for the shooting of a teenager in Gustavsberg on Värmdö near Stockholm. The attempted killing took place on Wednesday morning. No news yet on the condition of the wounded victim.

ESTONIA, 18 OCT 2023: Estonia is buying 230 Turkish armoured vehicles to equip its 2nd Infantry Brigade, the Estonian Ministry of Defence has announced. Although the exact type has not been disclosed it are both 4×4 and 6×6 armoured vehicles. Some will also be deployed with the Estonian first armoured brigade. The deal was signed by the defence ministers of both countries on 18 October in the Estonian capital of Tallin. The first batch of vehicles is planned to arrive at the end of 2024.

NORWAY, 17 OCT 2023: Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre has presented his new government in Oslo today. Four ministers are out, as part of a reshuffle after disappointing results in mid-term elections. According to Støre, none of his former ministers wanted to leave. Most prominent departure is the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Anniken Huitfeldt suffers from a scandal, as her husband has traded in shares in state-controlled companies including Norway’s defence giant Kongsberg. Former Climate Minister Espen Barth Eide steps back into his old role as Foreign Minister, which he held in the years 2012 and 2013. The ministers for fisheries, local government and labour policy were sacked as well.

SWEDEN, 17 OCT 2023: Five men and two women are standing trial for various accounts of aiding in the murder of a 31-year-old male gang leader and the severely wounding of an innocent bystander in a shopping centre in Malmö. Known as the Emporia killing, after the popular and modern shopping centre in the Southern Swedish city, the seven planned the killing over a longer period of time. At least, that is what the public prosecutor says. A 16-year-old has already been sentenced to four years behind juvenile care bars for executing the assassination. The incident took place on 19 August 2022.

LATVIA, 16 OCT 2023: Latvia purchases four US-made Boeing MD 530F light (attack) helicopters, the Latvian Ministry of Defence announced. The type can be armed, and traditionally serves in a ground (fire) support or scout role. The quarted is set to reinforce the four UH-60M Black Hawk assault and transport helicopters of the Latvian Armed Forces.

SWEDEN, 12 OCT 2023: For the first time in Sweden, a man was sentenced for hagitation against ethnic group for burning a Quran, on 12 October by a lower court in Linköping. The man burned the for Muslims holy book with bacon, and filmed with music connected to a terror attack by extreme right in Christchurch, Swedish media reported. He later left the Qaran with bacon at a local mosque. The 27-year old convicted does not have to go to jail, but the ruling holds some limitations and warnings for the convict. The past months the Quran has been burned in public in Sweden by a few individuals, but until now no one was sentenced. The convicted himself does not acknowledge any crime.

SWEDEN, 10 OCT 2023: Petrol and diesel cars will be prohibited on the streets of the most central part of Stockholm, from 31 December 2024, the city council has announced. The prohibition zone is 20 blocks large and is bordered by the streets Kungsgatan, Birger Jarlsgatan, Hamngatan and Sveavägen. It is o.a. places, home to the busiest shopping streets of the Swedish capital – as well as the Opera, the Concert Hall famous of the Nobel Prize ceremony, and government offices.

SWEDEN, 9 OCT 2023: The Swedish people’s protection authority (MSB) will be distributing 15,600 new radio receivers to all households around the Forsmark nuclear plants, northeast of Stockholm/Uppsala. In case of a disaster at the plant, the radios should warn all living in a 25-kilometre zone around the plant. At Forsmark, 3 out of 9 active Swedish nuclear reactors are present. In the past the safety zone was only 15 kilometres big.

SWEDEN, 7 OCT 2023: A man was shot and wounded in the city of Helsingborg, Sweden, late on Friday night 6 October. He came to hospital himself saying he was attacked by masked man in the Olympia area, police says. But on Saterday morning the police reported they could not exclude the man caused the shot wound himself. However, earlier this week two other shootings took place in the same Swedish city, leading to the police to send up surveillance drones more often to monitor the city from above.

NORWAY, 7 OCT 2023: Norwegian police have arrested a man in his twenties suspected of shooting and wounding another man in his twenties in the Holmlia area of Oslo on Friday night. The police has given very little details.

SWEDEN, 5 OCT 2023: Nine suspects are being put on trial for their involvement in a wave of bombings in residential areas in Stockholm, the public prosecutor in Attunda (Stockholm) has said. The suspects are from various criminal gangs in the area.