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Tuesday's papers: Russian espionage, student mental health and tram testers needed

You can now apply to become an official tester for Tampere's brand new tram system launching next year.

Tampere region transport operator is looking for passengers to test the Tampere Tramway. Image: Antti Eintola / Yle

Russia has about 20 intelligence officers working in Finnish embassies and consulates, according to a paper published by Finland’s National Defence University (MPKK) last week.

The officers work for Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, the Main Intelligence Directorate, and the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation FSB, considered the main successor to former USSR's KGB, Daily Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun)quoted lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Pansch a specialist researcher at MPKK as saying.

Russia uses intelligence officers travelling to Finland, as well as so-called secret residents in the country who could be Finnish citizens, the daily wrote.

Panschin’s writing was published at the same time as the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service (Supo)'s National Security Review last week.

"If you suspect you have been the subject of an intelligence inquiry, report it to your supervisor and your security officer," Panschin wrote in the publication.

Russian intelligence is interested in information on foreign and domestic policy, the economy, energy and trade issues, Panschin said to HS. The intelligence targets individuals such as politicians, scientists and soldiers in the early stages of their careers who can be used to their advantage over a long period of time.

According to Panschin, internationally reported cases of espionage suggest that Russian intelligence services target people who can be pressured into committing fraudulent activities without necessarily having access to classified information.

Pandemic effect on student mental health

More students than usual are seeking help for mental health issues this year, according to the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS).

"From the beginning of January to the end of October 2019, we made approximately 6,400 assessments of patients who contacted us for psychological support or mental health care. This year, the number of assessments in January-October was 7,900," FSHS’s medical director of mental health, Tommi Väyrynen said in Swedish daily Hufvudstadsbladet. (siirryt toiseen palveluun)

Students mostly report suffering from anxiety and depression, the paper reported.

According to Väyrynen, the foundation has been able to respond well to the need for care — the average queue times for mental health care are in fact shorter than in 2019.

"Due to the pandemic, students with infectious diseases must turn to health centres. This means that we have more free hours for those who need mental support or mental health care," Väyrynen said. The foundation has also been treating students remotely since March 2019.

According to HBL, students have also reached out to psychologists to talk about their difficulties coping with their studies. They have been contacting university priests to pour their hearts out about non-coronavirus related subjects like relationships and grief.

"Now in corona times, I have noticed that surprisingly many also want to talk about religion and outlook on life. It seems that the situation has made many people think about the bigger questions in life," said Tiina Hallikainen, one of two educational institution priests for Turku's Åbo Akademi University, Åbo University and Novia University of Applied Sciences.

Test the Tampere tram

Tampere residents will not have to wait too long ride on the much-anticipated trams to be introduced to commuter traffic in August next year. Tampere region transport operator Nysse is looking for passengers to test the trams as early as the beginning of January 2021, according to tabloid Ilta-Sanomat. (siirryt toiseen palveluun)

The passengers will evaluate areas like the overall experience, the payment process, comfort and ease of movement between the trams and stations, the daily reported

The exact number of test passengers and pilot runs required are not yet clear due to the changing coronavirus situation.

"In any case, dozens of test passengers are needed," Nysse's customer relationship manager Riikka Salkonen told the paper.

Test passengers will range from those travelling with prams, children and the elderly to passengers who have no experience using public transport, IS wrote.

"Of course, we hope to get test passengers who give honest feedback about their experience. The work of test passengers is very important, as small details often decide how good the service will eventually be," Salkonen said.

Prospective pilot passengers have until 6 December to apply to trial the trams at nysse.fi/nysselab. Nysse will select suitable participants based on user profiles or by drawing lots, if needed.

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