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Thursday's papers: Professor stabbing, icebreaker move and spring-like driving conditions

A shocking incident outside an Aalto University lecture theatre dominated the tabloid press. Elsewhere the mild winter's effect on motorists and disquiet over the decision to move an icebreaker from Helsinki to Sweden dominated the headlines.

Image: YLE

Both Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun) and Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) led with the stabbing of Esa Saarinen, a philosophy professor at Aalto University. Saarinen is a well-known figure in Finland, appearing on talk shows and running a successful consultancy for corporate clients, so the attack was big news.

Iltalehti carried an account of the lecture that preceded the attack. Iltalehti reports that one student in the lecture theatre interrupted Saarinen's talk repeatedly and was asked to leave. He did so, but Iltalehti's eyewitnesses said they felt uncomfortable for the rest of the lecture.

Both papers report that the 21-year-old then attacked Saarinen outside the lecture theatre, stabbing him in the midriff, before onlookers pulled them apart. Police detained the attacker and are investigating the incident as attempted homicide. Saarinen's injuries are not life-threatening.

To change tires or not to change tires?

Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) has a double-page spread on a mundane but universal problem: when to change winter tires for summer ones. Motorists need the extra grip during the colder months, when snow and ice make driving conditions more slippery, but in the summer the studded tires can damage road surfaces and increase concentrations of particulate pollution in the air.

Despite the warm weather, dry roads and good driving conditions, experts asked by HS say people should keep the winter wheels in operation for a while longer. Night frosts and the vagaries of the Finnish climate make an early change unwise, no matter how spring-like the conditions may be.

Human rights problems

HS also has an article on a Russian report that criticises human rights problems in Finland. The Russian report says Finland needs to improve the speed of judicial proceedings, procedures around involuntary commitment to psychiatric care, domestic violence policies, racism and the living conditions of asylum seekers, among many other issues.

Finnish politicians asked by HS said they were not surprised by the report, which they viewed as part of an overall prickliness over human rights issues among Russian policy makers. Kimmo Sasi, a National Coalition party MP who also sits on the European Council committee that has produced reports on human rights in Russia, detects a tit-for-tat attitude in the new Russian document.

"Human rights reports on Russia used to take two years to complete, now they take five years," said Sasi.

Icebreakers head west

The Social Democrat daily Demokraatti (siirryt toiseen palveluun)'s lead story is the Finnish Transport Agency's decision to send the Urho icebreaker to the Swedish port of Luleå for the summer. Mild weather means there is less ice to break, and most of it is located in the north of the Gulf of Bothnia.

Swedish ships are helping with that task, but the Urho--named after former president Urho Kekkonen--is to rest up for the summer. Unions are not pleased about this state of affairs.

"Urho Kekkonen would turn in his grave if he heard of this stunt from the Transport Agency," said icebreaker operator Arctia Shipping's head shop steward Rauno Mutka.

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