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PM Stubb slams MPs' "russophobia" over planned Russian nuclear plant

Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb has criticised MPs for what he calls “russophobia” in the debate over a new Russian-built nuclear reactor planned for Finland’s north-west coast.

Fennovoima lähetekeskustelu.
PM Alexander Stubb keeps a watchful eye on Green MP Oras Tynkkynen. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Parliamentarians critical of the Fennovoima nuclear project got a stinging rebuke from premier Alexander Stubb on Tuesday. Some MPs expressed concerns that the project, in which Russian firm Rosatom is the largest stakeholder and the supplier, would increase Finnish energy dependence on Russia.

“The thing that has annoyed me most in this discussion is a certain attitude, even russophobia, that has been evident in several speeches,” said Stubb during a debate on the project. “It comes from an attempt to stoke fears of Russia in our energy policy. It would be good to talk about energy as energy.”

He was responding to several broadsides fired MPs worried about Rosatom. Tampere Green Oras Tynkkynen said that he was concerned about Rosatom’s links to the Russian state.

“Rosatom is not any ordinary company,” said Tynkkynen. “Rosatom is the former Soviet Union’s nuclear energy ministry that is still responsible for maintaining Russian nuclear weapons. Rosatom is a state company under President Vladimir Putin’s direct control, whose tasks include, to put it bluntly, Russia’s geopolitical interests.”

Swedish People’s Party MP Stefan Wallin also warned of the strategic implications of allowing Rosatom to build the new reactor.

“We can’t fail to consider the idea that Russia, in certain situations, might start engage in energy policy as a form of power politics,” said Wallin.

The cabinet has expressed its support for the Fennovoima project, and proposed granting permission for the revised plan. That decision saw Green League Ministers leave the government in protest.

The proposal now goes to the parliamentary committee on the economy for consideration, before returning to parliament for a full debate.

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