By Nordstjernan columnist Ulf Nilson, November 2009

Like millions of other blokes, I celebrated the fall of The Wall 20 years ago. Like millions of others, I thought warmly of Ronald Reagan, the President who believed what he said and said what he believed.
"Mr. Gorbatjev, tear down this wall!"
I cried when I heard it. I cried again a few years later when I watched—sitting in front of my television in New York—that wall finally, unbelievably come down. A very evil chapter in human history was finally over. My thoughts strayed. I remembered walking along that evil wall, which I did every year, often with my three daughters. Every time we stopped at a point not too far from Brandenburger Tor. There somebody had written:
“Tiny und Axel halten sich trotzdem lieb,” which means “Tiny and Axel love each other anyway“ (in spite of evil, stupidity and this horrible wall). Of course I never met Tiny and Axel, but they became my friends. Often, when things were bad, I thought of them and their love. In spite of everything, I thought, love—that great feeling that you can actually fly!—is possible.
I also thought back to Budapest in the fall of 1956, when I had to step over corpses time and again, young guys and girls, Tinys and Axels, who had been shot by the Russians. Blood and death were everywhere, but so was jubilation—it was possible: Evil could be defeated. I was permitted to go ahead of a long line of people, climb a ladder and— YES, I DID IT!—saw on Stalin’s sculptured boot. The statue had already been torn down, but the iron boot was still there and I helped destroy it.
It didn’t last long, that time. The freedom fighters of Budapest, true heroes of my youth (I was 23 at the time) were shot or imprisoned. The Iron Curtain went down once more, but I never forgot—how could I?—the boys and girls of those days.
Sadly, I’ve come to notice the forces of inertia and, dare I say evil, are not so easily defeated. As I write this time, there is great jubilation and yes, I am happy, but still there is reason to worry. Putin is hardly better than Stalin, he just has less power. The Russians can no longer conquer Poland, Estonia and East Germany, but it can—and has and will—harass the Ukraine, Georgia and others. It tries to make western Europe (primarily Germany) dependent on its natural gas, and time and again it has shown that it has nothing, nothing at all against blackmailing other states. The new gas pipeline, Nord Stream, runs about 500 kilometers in the Swedish economic zone in the Baltic. Along the line, Naval units will patrol very close to the island of Gotland, an undefended part of likewise undefended Sweden.
In other words: Russia is pushing for more influence, a greater say in European affairs. It does this not from a position of strength (except where oil and gas are concerned), but from a position of dangerous, lethal weakness.
For, as a matter of fact, Russia is dying. Every year, more citizens die than are born. The population is shrinking by some 1 million a year, and no immigration is in the cards. People die of TB, Aids, and in great masses because of epidemic alcoholism. The leaders live high on the hog, the people suffer and all this breeds instability.
So, in the days after the jubilation over the fall of the Wall, we have to contemplate that Russia really is (in the words of former German Chancellor Helmuth Schmidt) “upper Volta with missiles.” Yes: missiles. Thousands of them, armed with nuclear warheads and ready to fly.
Want to be a close neighbor to a sick giant armed with enough destructive power to destroy the earth? Well, you can always move to Sweden ….