Helping Czechoslovak dissidents did have an effect and Sweden stuck out in this way
Born in 1956 in Oregrund, Sweden, Urban Westling was influenced by the presence of Hungarian political refugees in his hometown during his childhood. His wife was a Swedish-born Estonian whose family had fled the Soviet occupation. In his youth, he worked as an activist in the Eastern Europe Solidarity Committee, took part in many protests and happenings in support of democratisation movements in the east of the continent, and was also arrested for this. As a trained graphic designer, he is the author of a number of emblematic posters and fliers from this period. He circulated a petition in support of the signatories of Charter 77, and over time he became involved with the Committee of 21 August because of his affection for Czechoslovakia, which he visited repeatedly. He was in contact with Czech dissidents and provided information to the Swedish and Western public. He smuggled books, medicines and technical equipment for underground printers into Czechoslovakia in hidden compartments in cars and by air. He was also active in the distribution of financial and material aid to dissidents as part of the activities of the Charter 77 Foundation. In 1991, he welcomed President Havel at the Foundation’s office during his official visit to Sweden. In January 2023, he took part in a public debate on Scandinavian support for the Czechoslovak democratic movement, organised by Post Bellum together with the Václav Havel Library.