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Foreign ministry blocks Helsinki shipyard's Russian icebreaker deal

Helsinki Shipyard signed a deal last year to build a new icebreaker for Russian mining firm Norilsk Nickel for use in northern Siberia.

File photo of Helsinki Shipyard. Image: Mårten Lampén / Yle

Helsinki Shipyard has been denied an export licence by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs to build a special-purpose icebreaker ship for Russian mining firm Norilsk Nickel.

In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, the company said the ministry issued the negative decision on Friday 30 September.

Construction on the vessel was due to recommence at the Hietalahti shipyard in the capital next year, and had been forecast to create about 2,100 person-years of employment within the shipbuilding and maritime industries.

Although preliminary work on the icebreaker began late last year, the project was halted by sanctions imposed on Russia because of the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The sanctions on Russia have had a heavy impact on Helsinki Shipyard's operations, and bankruptcy papers were filed against the company in September, although they were withdrawn the following day.

Helsinki Shipyard has been owned since 2019 by the Cyprus-based Algador Holdings, whose main shareholder is Vladimir Kasyanenko, a businessman with alleged close ties to the Russian Federation. Kasyanenko currently holds a Belgian passport. Kasyanenko has denied any links to the Kremlin or to Russian politics.

The facility had previously been taken over by Russian state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) in 2015.

Helsinki Shipyard specialises in Arctic shipbuilding, and the facility has built several icebreakers.

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Edit added on 4.10.2022 at 19:44 to note that the bankruptcy papers were withdrawn one day after being filed.

Edit added on 14.10.2022 at 12:10 to clarify that Vladimir Kasyanenko has alleged close ties to the Russian Federation.

Edit added on 18.10.2022 at 15:09 to add that Vladimir Kasyanenko has denied any alleged links to the Kremlin or Russian politics.

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