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Monday's papers: Christmas traditions, Facebook "harassment" in Tampere, and Khodorkovsky's release from prison

The unexpected early release of former billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky from a Russian prison leads international news, while on the domestic front Christmas is the main focus for newspapers from Lapland to Helsinki.

Joulupukin kuumalinja.
Image: Laura Pohjavirta / YLE Kuvapalvelu

Christmas traditions and sales are among the main domestic topics of the Finnish dailies on Monday morning in the lead up to Christmas Eve.

The main daily Helsingin Sanomat leads with a poll about Christmas, which according to the newspaper's commissioned TNS Gallup poll is the year's favourite holiday for one out of every four Finns. Four out of five surveyed said that they eat traditional Christmas foods such as ham and various casseroles each year. Fewer than one in five eat turkey to mark the festive meal.

In international news, Helsingin Sanomat leads with the surprise early release of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia's richest man as head of oil giant Yukos, who was imprisoned for ten years for tax evasion and theft after funding opposition parties. The fierce critic of the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin was suddenly given a pardon by Putin. Khodorkovsky was flown to Berlin, Germany, where he "cautiously" appeared in public and said that he hoped the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia would not be boycotted. Many politicians and other public figures have announced that they will be boycotting the Winter Games in protest of Russia's anti-gay laws. Khodorkovsky also said that he would not be returning to politics and would instead be turning his efforts to lobbying for the release of other political prisoners in Russia.

Tampere-based Aamulehti tells the story of a local man, Jukka-Pekka Kokko, who was charged and fined with defamation of character after he complained to his boss and the police and later in private Facebook messages that his co-worker had hit an autistic child in her care. The woman, who took the case to court, claimed that the complaint to her boss and the Facebook messages constituted harassment and defamation of character. Kokko had to pay a 500-euro fine for defamation of character, as well as more than 2,500 euros in legal fees - even though the woman was found guilty and charged with abusing the underage autistic in her care. Kokko said he wanted to make the case public as his interest was in protecting the child and he felt the case set an awkward precedent for freedom of speech.

In Turku, Turun Sanomat's Christmas stories include a story on how the official Finnish Santa Claus's outfit was re-designed by Anna-Marie Rytkönen, who lives in Turku, and how the traffic centre will be on call throughout Christmas monitoring traffic safety.

One of the cover stories for Lapin Kansa of Rovaniemi is about Christmas sales, which have been brisk in the far north of Finland, where books - only hardcover ones will do - and jewellery continue to be the top-selling gifts.

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