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Thursday's papers: Migri mistake, Russia's new Nato threat, and winter's revenge

Nurse Anudari Boldbaatar moved from Finland after going through a two-year legal process to overturn an erroneous negative decision on a residence permit.

Photo of Russian consulate in Mariehamn, Åland featuring Ukrainian flags in the foreground.
File photo of Russian consulate in Mariehamn, Åland featuring Ukrainian flags in the foreground. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle
Yle News

Newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (HS) followed up on a story about the Immigration Service Migri's mishandling of a Mongolian nurse's residence permit application.

The nurse, Anudari Boldbaatar, had been living and working in Finland and according to the paper, Migri rejected her residence permit application on incorrect grounds, and ruled that she should be deported.

Now, HS reports, following the completion of a probe into the procedures taken in the case, two senior Migri officials were handed written reprimands about incorrectly rejecting the nurse's application as well as concealing the reasons behind the decision.

"The shortcomings of the overall decision were so significant that we ended up with two written reprimands. The mistake was big for the agency, but only part of that mistake was due to the employees," Migri's Director General, Ilkka Haahtela, told the paper.

The senior inspectors who made the decision have an official responsibility and duty to examine and carry out such decisions with care, according to the paper.

Haahtela called for the launch of an investigation of Boldbaatar's case in December, HS explained.

Before that, HS reported on 10 December that Boldbaatar's residence permit application was rejected on incorrect grounds in December 2020.

That decision was based on a suspected forgery of a bank statement. However it was found that the forgery suspicions were incorrect because the officials did not know how to interpret the bank statement correctly.

At the time, the agency concealed the basic reasons behind its rejection of the application. Migri also asked police to investigate their allegations, accusing Boldbaatar of forgery.

Boldbaatar applied to Helsinki Administrative Court for leave to appeal the decision and the case was also examined by the prosecutor's office.

However, the prosecutor decided not to press charges against the nurse, stating that "there are no probable reasons to support the suspect's guilt," the paper explained.

Boldbaatar finally left Finland after going through a two-year legal process to overturn the decision.

Following an internal investigation, Migri admitted that mistakes had been made in the case regarding both the interpretation of the law and in their procedures.

Migri chief Haahtela said agency officials were given new guidelines about examining the documents of resident permit applicants.

At that time, training about those guidelines had just started and Migri officials were instructed that special attention should be paid to calculation errors, according to Haahtela.

Due to the errors made in Boldbaatar's case, Migri has launched a separate legality checking process.

A recent such internal audit found there were procedural errors and quality problems detected in nine percent of negative decisions about extended residence permits made by the agency last year.

Russian threats

Russia has again threatened to take countermeasures if Nato steps foot on Finnish soil, according to tabloid Iltalehti (IL).

At a press conference on Wednesday, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Russia will not accept the US military's presence in Finland.

"We closely monitor Nato's plans for Finland. We confirm that Russia will take both military, technical and other types of countermeasures to curb the threats to national security that appear in this context," Zakharova said, according to Russian state media Tass.

Helsingin Sanomat reported on Monday that Finland and the US were negotiating a defence agreement which would allow US troops to use Finland's land and military bases for drills and equipment storage.

Moscow's Åland complaints

Russian officials on Åland have contacted the Finnish foreign affairs ministry, in a complaint about vandalism directed at the Russian consulate, the ministry has confirmed.

That's according to a report in Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet (HBL) on Thursday.

Russian state news agency Tass initially reported that the consulate officials asked the Finnish government to take actions about the alleged vandalism at the facility.

Russian ministry spokeswoman Zakharova said on Wednesday that a group of people in the early hours of May Day threw an "explosive noise device" and other objects onto the consulate's territory, posing a danger to the life and health of its diplomatic staff.

HBL said the Finnish ministry confirmed that it was aware of the incident and that the Russian Embassy has contacted the ministry.

"The case is regrettable and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs takes vandalism against diplomatic and consular property seriously. It is important that the competent authorities investigate what happened," the ministry told HBL in a written statement.

Åland police told HBL that it has started a preliminary investigation about the incident.

Winter's late revenge?

Iltalehti suggested that winter isn't through with Finland just yet, even though it's already the beginning of May.

"It will be cold, especially on Thursday and Friday," Foreca meteorologist Joanna Rinne told the paper.

She said that even people in southern Finland should brace themselves for the possibility of local sleet and snow showers and slippery road conditions.

Overnight frost conditions are expected across the country too, according to Rinne's forecast.

"In the south, the precipitation will include rain, sleet and snow flurries, in central areas mostly as sleet or snow. It will be cloudy to mostly cloudy in Lapland and there may also be some snow around northern Lapland," she explained.

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