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Tuesday's papers: Russian imports, Independence Day demos, slippery streets

Imports from Russia have fallen dramatically this year, but trade in some key industrial goods continues, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

The press reports that Helsinki police are preparing for demonstrations on Independence Day, Tuesday 6 December. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle
Yle News

The value of Finland's imports from Russia was 257 million euros in September. Compared to September of last year, imports have shrunk by 66 percent, according to preliminary data from Finnish Customs.

Helsingin Sanomat writes (siirryt toiseen palveluun)that there are now more than 80 percent fewer Finnish companies importing goods from Russia than there were a year ago. 

The EU has already imposed eight rounds of trade sanctions on Russia, and the European Commission is currently preparing a ninth package.

However, a large number of products remain outside the sanctions. For example, uranium is not on the sanctions list, and in Finland's Fortum energy company still uses Russian uranium as fuel for nuclear power plants.

Customs estimated in October that around 90 Finnish companies still import products from Russia.

So what else is still being imported from Russia to Finland?

Looking at the most recent preliminary statistics on foreign trade by Finnish Customs, Helsingin Sanomat writes that the list is still a long one, even though the volume of imports has decreased.

In terms of value in September, nickel and nickel goods, especially for use in the battery industry, topped the list. Refined oil in various forms was the second most imported by value. 

Sami Rakshit, the director of the Customs' board's Enforcement Department, pointed out to the paper that in the big picture, the volume of imports of nickel and petroleum products is quite small compared to normal years.

Rakshit also told Helsingin Sanomat that the import of consumer goods from Russia is now completely marginal.

However, he noted that consumers may still come across products of Russian origin. One example he gave was car tyres.

"Rubber and tyres came under embargo already at the beginning of the year, but that does not rule out the possibility that tyres produced in Russia are still on sale somewhere. It depends on how long stocks have lasted," said Rakshit.

Police ready for demonstrations

The Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that Helsinki police are preparing for demonstrations on Independence Day, Tuesday 6 December.

Several demonstrations are expected in the capital and reinforcements are being brought in from some other police departments. 

For operational reasons, the head of the Helsinki police department's response and surveillance unit, Jarmo Heinonen, declined to say how many officers will be deployed or on standby but did note that Independence Day is one of the biggest annual events for the police.

Notifications of planned demonstration can be submitted as late as 24 hours in advance, so the situation can be quite fluid.

Both nationalist, right-wing demonstrations and counter-demonstrations are expected. Heinonen says that police aim at preventing any clashes between the groups.

University students will also be holding their traditional torchlight procession. 

Most marches and demonstrations are scheduled for similar times and traffic in the centre of the city will be affected.

Hufvudstadsbladet notes that Independence Day has become increasingly established as a day for demonstrations, and since the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, various organisers have again become more active.

Fall in births

Tampere's Aamulehti carries a STT Finnish News Agency report (siirryt toiseen palveluun)that a researcher at Statistics Finland says the national birth rate may fall to an all-time low this year.

The latest figures from the Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) show Finland's birth increasing increased by more than six percent in 2021, continuing an upswing seen in 2020. 

This year, however, preliminary data gathered by Statistics Finland indicates a drop in the birth rate. This data shows that between January and October of this year, more than nine percent fewer children were born in Finland than in the same period of last year.

According to Markus Rapo, a demographer at Statistics Finland, the birth rate this year may hit a record low since the start of record keeping.

Rapo says that the 12-month total fertility rate in October in Finland was 1.34. The figure refers to the average number of children that women give birth to during their lifetimes.

So far, the lowest annual fertility rate in Finland was 1.35, registered in 2019. 

Slippery and more slippery

Ilta-Sanomat points out that a forecast (siirryt toiseen palveluun) of temperatures rising above the freezing point in southern parts of the country is likely to mean that snow and ice will start to melt, making roads and streets especially slippery.

Meanwhile, more snowfall is expected to move in from the southwest overnight.

The paper tells readers that the Finnish Meteorological Institute's traffic weather service is warning of potentially hazardous driving conditions starting Tuesday evening in Uusimaa and Kymenlaakso. During the night, the fresh snowfall will push deeper inland, affecting driving conditions in Päijät-Häme, South Karelia and South Savo as well.

This probably means that southern Finland will continue to enjoy a white winter. Of course, says Ilta-Sanomat, it may be slushy and slippery at times, so pedestrians are also warned to watch their step. 

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