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Youth Foundation directors get their day in court

The former leadership of the Youth Foundation goes on trial on Tuesday in one of the biggest cases stemming from the campaign finance scandals of recent years.

Antti Kaikkonen & Jukka Vihriälä
Kaikkonen and Vihriälä Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

Those facing possible prison terms include Centre Party MP Antti Kaikkonen and the former head of the Slot Machine Association, Jukka Vihriälä. They deny any wrongdoing.

Among other charges, the defendants are accused of paying inflated prices for artwork and books to raise money for candidates, mostly from the Centre Party.

The accused deny all charges. Kaikkonen’s lawyer argued that support for political parties was not forbidden, and that the organisation had to be an influential actor in society.

The prosecutor pointed out that Kaikkonen had acted as both buyer and seller in the transactions, and that his role as an advocate for young people was not a justification for the Youth Foundation’s support for his campaigns.

Jorma Heikkinen, who had worked as a lawyer at the Youth Foundation, argued that supporting the Centre party was part of its remit.

The Youth Foundation, a non-profit housing group, has traditionally been directed by Centre Party politicians including former prime minister Matti Vanhanen.

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Universities consolidate lower degree programmes, Helsinki to lose two-thirds of study options

Many universities in Finland are renewing their study offerings in the interests of providing degrees with a broader, more multidisciplinary scope. Among other things, this means bachelor’s degree availability will also be reduced significantly in the coming years. University leadership collectively denies that the programmes are being consolidated as a result of the government-imposed spending cuts, but similar reform in 2012 at the University of Tampere has already proven more cost-effective.

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