Swedish journalist Rasmus Canbäck on the warpath with Azerbaijan

For many residents of the post-Soviet area, Scandinavia is perhaps one of the most attractive regions in terms of socio-economic development and tranquility, not only in the Old World but, probably, in the whole world. High salaries, pensions, social benefits, and, of course, living standards make the Scandinavian countries one of the best places to live. However, despite the high standard of living and economy, the Scandinavian states (some of them even being members of NATO) managed to keep their distance from the world centers of power, for example, Brussels and Strasbourg, keeping aloof from the most important political processes in the world.

News.az reports citing Caliber.az that, however, despite this, from here, in quiet Scandinavia, an active PR campaign against Azerbaijan has been conducted in recent years. Namely, from Swedish Stockholm, from where the long tentacles of an octopus called Blankspot. This publication firmly holds the palm for information attacks on Azerbaijan. We will not go far for examples and proofs and invite readers to enter the name of the publication in the Google search engine - Blankspot.se: out of 391,000 results, Azerbaijan is in third place. Readers who understand the algorithm of search engines will understand what's what. To clarify: at the beginning of the search, the most important pages of the site appear, and in the case of Blankspot.se, we see that this site has devoted more than a dozen materials to our country.

Almost all of them are provocative and fake. Offhand, we immediately found 43 articles of a similar nature.

What is the reason for such a "reverent" attitude of the Swedish Blankspot.se towards Azerbaijan?

The reason lies in the editorial staff of this publication, where a certain Rasmus Canbäck has wormed his way. Rasmus Canbäck repeatedly illegally visited the territories of Azerbaijan while being under occupation at that time. The vast majority of anti-Azerbaijani publications on the website Blankspot.se came from the pen of this journalist. Why did he not like Azerbaijan? To answer this question, you need to go back a few years.

In Armenia, under Levon Ter-Petrosyan, there was such a foreign minister - Alexander Arzumanyan. Then the “Karabakh clan” initiated a criminal case against him on the events of March 1, 2008, which, however, did not prevent Serzh Sargsyan from appointing him as the Ambassador of Armenia to Denmark in 2017. Already under the new government, Arzumanyan was also appointed as the Armenian ambassador to Sweden, while he continued to act as an ambassador to Denmark and Norway. According to the information received by the editors of Caliber.Az, while still working in Denmark, Arzumanyan met Canbäck, a Dane by origin. On the recommendation of the National Security Council, the Armenian Ambassador attracted the journalist to close cooperation on a paid basis. Soon, the journalist was introduced into the media field of Sweden, and anti-Azerbaijani materials began to come out from his pen (and also from the pen of the employees of the press center of the National Security Service, but already under the name of Canbäck). According to our information, Canbäck's "works" are generously paid not only by the Armenian Embassy in Sweden but also by the owner of GN Tobacco Sweden, Gevorg Nalbandyan, who lives in this country.

As you know, the West strictly monitors the financial transparency of legal entities and individuals. So our "hero" Rasmus declares his annual income in the amount of no more than 20,000 euros. This small (by the standards of the Scandinavian countries) amount, however, allows him not only to live comfortably in Sweden, but also to make illegal trips to Karabakh, and publish a book about Armenians and their claims to Azerbaijani territories. We will talk about trips to Karabakh a little later, but for now, we will supplement the overall picture with the fact that Canbäck, financed by the Armenian side, published several dozen anti-Azerbaijani fake articles on Blankspot at weekly intervals. Moreover, most of his social media followers are of Armenian nationality. According to Canbäck’s entourage, the journalist himself boasted to his acquaintances that the oligarch Nalbandyan ordered him at least two anti-Azerbaijani publications a month on a contractual basis, paid for surveillance of the activities of the Azerbaijani embassy in Sweden and putting pressure on the partners of the Azerbaijani diplomatic mission.

And now about his trips to Karabakh. As he himself points out on his Twitter page, the Danish-Swedish journalist made his first trip to the occupied at that time Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in 2016. The second one is in 2017. The third is in 2019. “I rented a car to be able to move around more freely and stayed a little longer. The two previous trips forced me to explore the effects of the war more. I went to the outskirts of Aghdam (yes, unsafe), Martakert (Agdere - ed.) and met people,” he wrote.

Canbäck made his fourth trip in 2021. “After several months of planning, I managed to get funding from a football magazine, a book contract, and some small journalistic work for a trip to Karabakh. In March, I arrived in Stepanakert (Khankendi - ed.) to work with photographer Areg Balayan. We went to Tagaverde, Martuni (Khojavend), and Martakert (Agdere),” he tweeted.

The last written must be remembered. After all, some of the readers may object that we are slandering an honest journalist who simply wants to write about Karabakh without prejudice. Initially, the Azerbaijani side was not sure about Canbäck 's work for Armenia on a paid basis. As is known, after the liberation of Karabakh, Baku organizes trips of foreign journalists and public, political, and cultural figures to the liberated territories in order to familiarize them locally with the results of the Armenian occupation. An offer was made to visit Karabakh and a group of Swedish journalists. Including Canbäck. After all, if you want to impartially cover the conflict, you must take into account the opinions of both sides. However, Canbäck not only refused to travel, but also committed a petty and unethical act - he published an invitation received from the Azerbaijani diaspora in Sweden, and also condemned those of his colleagues who agreed to go to the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. “How is that possible? - he was indignant. - Journalists can travel to conflict zones either at the expense of the editorial office or at their own expense, in order to have their hands free when writing a report. And then Azerbaijan paid for the whole trip.” Strange position. If a Scandinavian journalist does not have an initial bias towards one of the parties to the conflict, then, on the contrary, he must visit both sides of the recent conflict in order to form an objective opinion first for himself, and then for his readers.

But Rasmus fell into absurd fabrications while forgetting what he wrote earlier: “After several months of planning, I managed to get funding from a football magazine, a book contract, and a little journalistic work for a trip to Karabakh.” How many football or sports magazines do we know that are ready to pay for a journalist's trip to write a politically biased report from Karabakh? There is an attempt to disguise the trip paid for by the Armenians under the "order of a football magazine." Yes, and this “magazine” is rather not poor, given that the hero of this story both in Armenia and in Khankendi rented luxury rooms, and even took his wife with him on trips. 20,000 euros of annual income, according to the declaration? Football magazine?

At the same time, with all the evidence, he stubbornly denies close ties with the Armenian lobby and special services. When Rasmus initiated a storm in glass last November with an invitation to a group of Swedish journalists to the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, a cartoon appeared online in which he accepts money from the Armenian lobby with one hand and passes part of it to Blankspot with the other. The hint is more than obvious, but under the cartoon, comments from Armenian users immediately appeared, who began to whitewash their “idol”, drawing him as “an unbending fighter against Azerbaijani propaganda.”

Why did the Armenian special services initially turn their attention to Canbäck as a promising object? People who know the journalist characterize him as a hardened Islamophobe, and it was with this feature that he once attracted the attention of Alexander Arzumanyan and Gevorg Nalbandyan. Meanwhile, as well-informed sources in Sweden told us, the publication itself, in which he publishes materials of anti-Azerbaijani content for the money of Armenians, maintains contacts with the Russian special services (at least until the start of the Russian war against Ukraine). Suffice it to say here that Blankspot editor-in-chief Martin Shibbi previously worked actively in the Revolutionary Communist Youth, an organization that is closely connected with the Russian special services. However, Canbäck himself often mentions that he began to study the Russian language and culture in order to “better understand the conflicts in the post-Soviet space.” Or, to make it easier to understand the orders of their Armenian and Russian curators from the special services of Armenia and the Russian Federation?

The author of the article is Samir Veliyev, Correspondent of Caliber.az

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