In March 2012, I was followed by a TV crew from Swedish Television’s ”Uppdrag Granskning” to Europe’s last dictatorship, Belarus. The trip was part of a depth investigation of the Nordic Telecom giant TeliaSonera and their business in dictatorships. ”Uppdrag Granskning” can now disclose how TeliaSonera is connected to human rights abuses in the former CIS countries, cooperating closely with for example the secret service KGB in Belarus, tracking and intercepting oppositional activists and journalists.
The documentary was shown on Swedish television, April 18th. So what has happened since then?
- A big and important debate started in Swedish media about corporate and state responsibility.
- The Swedish Government criticized TeliaSonera in Swedish media and invited TeliaSonera together with all other company owners for a meeting (Swedish state, Finish state among others).
- The Culture Mayor of The City of Stockholm, Madeleine Sjöstedt, made a statement in media that the City of Stockholm will review if they in the future can introduce a democracy criteria when it comes to purchase of phone services (approximately 40 000 TeliaSonera subscriptions could be cancelled) .
- Swedbank sold TeliaSonera shares for a value of 500 million SEK in their sustainability funds.
- TeliaSonera decided to change its policy when it comes to their work in dictatorships and raise the issue for discussion with governments of countries such as Belarus and Azerbaijdzjan.
The documentary 'The Black Boxes' is now available with English subtitles here: