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Thursday’s papers: Speculation over Russia, beauty queen homecoming and hunting report

While no single story dominated Thursday’s papers, the homecoming of 1952 Miss Universe winner Armi Kuusela-Williams and the ever-widening issue of the Ukraine crisis filled many pages in various dailies. Other news includes tomorrow’s mega-concert by Finnish rapper Cheek and the opening days of hunting season.

Sorsajahtiin osallistuu Keski-Suomessa noin 12 000 metsästäjää. Image: Seppo Nykänen

The front page of daily Iltalehti carries the startling headline , “Russia considers Finland a threat”. The claim is based on a report published by American research institute Jamestown Foundation, and written by Pauli Järvenpää, PhD., former diplomat and defence ministry head.

Iltalehti says that the report is based on public and surveillance information that Järvenpää claims is contrary to the official stance that Russian-Belarusian military exercises were anti-terrorism drills. The so-called Zapad exercises deployed missiles, fighter jets and even nuclear forces on standby.

Defence Committee chair Jussi Niinistö of the Finns says in the Iltalehti article that he feels that Järvenpää – a known pro-Nato critic – is not quite on the ball.

“Looks like he’s cutting quite a few corners,” Niinistö comments on page 6. “Russia’s military exercise specs are secret, but I don’t believe that Russia lumps Finland in with other Nato countries. It’s all just speculation.”

Three hopes; 80-year-old star

Top daily Helsingin Sanomat takes a more analytic stance as it looks towards Russia and its part in the Ukrainian crisis. HS says that three main issues need to be addressed in next week’s meeting in Minsk between Russian, Ukrainian and EU representatives to tackle the situation in Ukraine.

The first is a lasting ceasefire, which the country and all the world calls for, but the paper says the talks must at least clarify what Russia’s interests in eastern Ukraine actually are. The second issue concerns Ukraine’s ties with eastern and western markets, with a tug of war between the EU’s association agreement with the country and Russia’s planned Eurasian customs union. Thirdly, HS says that Crimea needs to be raised back on the table – Russia considers it a part of itself, while the EU judges that the annexing of the peninsula was a violation of international law.

Back in Finnish news, daily papers Ilta-Sanomat and Iltalehti both carry Armi Kuusela as their front page ticker leads, as the internationally beloved but secretive superstar returned to Finland from the USA a few days ago. After winning the first Miss Universe beauty pageant in 1952, Kuusela – known now as Kuusela-Williams – moved to the United States and has only now returned to Finland to celebrate her 80 birthday. She will travel to her hometown of Muhos on Saturday, Ilta-Sanomat says.

Both papers are bursting with biographical and anecdotal information on the erstwhile beauty queen. IS reports on her international and varied family, listing at least Canada, the US, Chile, Spain and the Philippines as countries where Kuusela-Williams’ children from her marriage to Gil Hilario now make their homes. Iltalehti tells the story of one Muhos man who says he once kissed Armi, the world’s most beautiful woman.

Concerts and shotgun blasts

Finnish rapper Cheek (Jare Tiihonen) can probably be considered a superstar, now if not before. Helsingin Sanomat describes the massive structures that have been ordered from the UK and constructed in the Olympic Stadium in the nation’s capital – a venue that Cheek has now booked absolutely solid for two nights in a row, for Friday and Saturday. No Finnish artist has ever drawn such crowds to the stadium in history.

The statistics alone are enough to make any mainstream rap enthusiast’s head swim. HS reports that the two concerts total at: 37 truckloads of props and stage equipment, 150 port-a-potties, 700 employees on-site and 80,000 spectators.

Finally, Tampere-based daily Aamulehti has a two-page feature on the first day of hunting season. The report includes a recipe for roast duck.

While hunter Jukka Haveri is pictured holding a duck he shot just minutes after midday, the official start of the season, Arto Paltta had to wait a lot longer for his chances at more than pot shots. But he doesn’t mind the hanging around.

“It’s not a day wasted even if I don’t catch a single fowl,” he said sagely in Aamulehti. “The best part is being out in the fresh air and at one with nature.”

Sources: HS, IS, IL, AL

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