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Tuesday's papers: Party high, Lukashenko laments, and "treasure trove"

A plot of land in Sipoo, believed by some to house a medieval treasure, went on the market this past weekend.

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko threatened to nationalise foreign businesses, including Finnish firms, in his country this past week. Image: Sergey Guneev / EPA

Central Finland-based paper Keskisuomalainen (siirryt toiseen palveluun) reported that a record 22 registered political parties are planning to run candidates in the 2023 parliamentary elections.

This is the highest number in Finland's history, surpassing the previous record in the last parliamentary election in 2019 when 19 registered parties had candidates for election. 

To register officially as a political party, organisations must collect the signatures of 5,000 supporters. 

One of the reasons for the increase in parties is that the collection of supporter cards can now be done electronically after a legal change in 2021. 

"It has become easier and easier to form a party, and thanks to electronic collection it is now even easier than before," said Rauli Mickelsson, a professor of political science at the University of Turku.

The proliferation of registered parties brings new ideas and candidates to voters. However, it is not always the case that the emergence of a new party expands the range of ideologies.

"Many of the newest parties are nationalist-populist. On the other hand, the Animal Rights Party and the Feminist Party are very close to the Green [Party] and the Left [Alliance]," Mickelsson noted.

Hanna Wass, a political science professor at the University of Helsinki, identified one area in the political landscape that is still missing from the Finnish political sphere despite the growth in the number of parties.

"There is no left-wing populist party in Finland. The Left Alliance lacks a populist rival to challenge them with similar economic policies," Wass pointed out. 

There are currently 10 parties represented in Finnish parliament. 

Lukashenko irate

Business daily Kauppalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun) covered Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's vague threat this week to nationalise some foreign companies. 

While the main focus of his message seemed to be Lithuanians, he also called out Finland for its business practices in Belarus. 

KL wrote that according to Belarusian state media outlet BelTA (siirryt toiseen palveluun), Lukashenko said he did not want to see foreign businesses from the Baltic states and Finland operating in Belarus anymore. 

His comments were spurred after visiting the Governor of Vitebsk Oblast Aleksandr Subbotin, who reportedly told the president that Lithuanians had approached him for a wooden housing project. 

Lukashenko responded to the governor abruptly, launching into a bit of a tirade. 

"I don't want to see your Lithuanians, Finns, and the rest anywhere close anymore. We know how they came here and how they abandoned everything and quit. We know it. I am already getting signals that Finnish owners of an enterprise I don't want to name have fled. Meanwhile, Lithuanians are running about and looking for ways to sell their enterprise at a profit instead of abandoning it. So, I want them to know that nobody will sell anything with foreign capital. It will be nationalised. That's it.” 

The largest Finnish companies that have withdrawn or are in the process of withdrawing from Belarus are Olvi, Kesko and Kemira. 

Scores of Finnish businesses have left Russia since it invaded Ukraine in February this year. Lukashenko is widely considered one of Russian president Vladimir Putin's closest allies. 

For sale: Temple of Lemminkäinen

A local plot of land in Sipoo with a colourful past has been put on the market, according to Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun)

The so-called Temple of Lemminkäinen sits on the plot, about 30 kilometres away from central Helsinki in the municipality of Sipoo. 

The location of the alleged "Temple of Lemminkäinen" in the municipality of Sipoo. Image: Mikko Leppänen / Yle, Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle

HS wrote that the land's sale was initially reported by local outlet Sipoon Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun)

The late mythologist Ior Bock was convinced that underneath a towering rock structure called Kyypelivuori, lay the entrance to a temple devoted to the Finnish mythological figure Lemminkäinen. The legend, according to Bock, says that the entrance to the temple was closed in the year 987 to protect a trove of hidden treasures. 

Despite numerous attempts over the years, no temple or treasure chamber has ever been found on the site. 

Even though there is a lack of evidence pointing to a medieval treasure cache, interest in the land is still quite high. According to real estate agent Timo Kanerva, the plot has attracted a "huge number" of inquiries— with many coming from outside Finland. 

The current owners of the land are the Helsinki-located yoga school, Astangajoogakoulu. 

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