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Finland considers restrictions on dual citizens in official posts

According to a recent report on the possible implications of Nato membership, Russia might try to politically activate Russians living in Finland to pressure the government. The Finnish government is already working on a legislative framework for dual citizens in official positions, and the proposal is due to come before parliament in the autumn.

Venäläinen matkailija raja-aseman tarkastusluukulla.
Image: Yle

Two years ago President Sauli Niinistö instigated a report on the security implications of dual citizenship, and one year ago that working group reported back. The conclusions are to be in legislation headed for parliament this autumn, and they’ve been given some impetus by the report on Nato membership submitted in April.

The report forecasts a crisis in Finnish-Russian relations if Finland ever joins the alliance, and says that dual citizens could end up being one of Russia’s targets during that phase.

"An attempt to politically activate the ethnic Russians living in Finland may also be considered," said the report. "During the accession process, the atmosphere would be poisoned and trade could be badly hit, along lines currently experienced in the Turkish-Russian dispute."


There are some 60,000 Russians in Finland, and around a third of them have dual citizenship. Finland has allowed dual citizenship since 2003—before then citizens had renounce other citizenships to become naturalised, and Finns would lose their own citizenship if they became a citizen of another country.

In Finland there are some 74,000 civil servants appointed to official positions, and nearly 30,000 of those posts must be held by a Finnish citizen.

Those posts include the highest positions in the land, such as the chancellor of justice, and security-related posts such as police officers, border guards and military officers.

From the start of this year officials handling classified documents have undergone a special security check—but that’s not part of Finland’s own monitoring, rather a condition of international co-operation. Foreign partners need to be assured that Finland is a reliable partner.

Loyalty risk?

The report published a year ago found that dual citizenship is on the increase, and that it has already had an impact on official duties. Some tasks have been arranged in such a way that no conflicts of interest arise when an official holds more than one citizenship.

That report is now set to be translated into law, with the Finance Ministry leading the project. Although much of the work has already been done, the legislation will require co-operation across several ministries and is therefore more arduous than usual.

The new law will define which jobs candidates will need to undergo a security check or possess a personal security clearance. It is also expected to take a stand on when a commitment to another country is a barrier to the candidate, and when dual citizenship represents a conflict of interest.

That judgement will be made on a case-by-case basis, and should relate to the work itself. Security risks related to dual citizenship should be taken into consideration in the recruitment phase.

Ministry official Kirsi Äijälä is directing the work, and says that it will be ready for consideration by parliament by the autumn.

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