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Russia's Åland consulate facing scrutiny as closure petition goes to parliament

There have been previous efforts at the political level to close Russia's consulate in Åland.

People demonstrating outside the Russian consulate in Mariehamn.
The Russian consulate in Mariehamn has been targeted by demonstrators since early 2022. Image: Bengt Östling / Yle
Yle News

A citizens' initiative aiming to close Russia's diplomatic mission in the autonomous Åland islands has gathered the 50,000 signatures required for consideration by the Finnish Parliament.

According to the initiative, the consulate in Mariehamn limits and endangers Finland's security now that the country is a member of the Nato military alliance. The Åland Islands form a demilitarised, self-governing province of Finland.

In July, the Ministerial Committee on Foreign Policy and Security, along with the president, announced that Finland would cancel Russia's permission to operate a consulate in the southwestern city of Turku from the start of October.

This was a countermeasure after Russia closed Finland's consulate in Saint Petersburg. In the same meeting, decision-makers also discussed Russia's consulate in Mariehamn.

For example the former ambassador to Russia, Hannu Himanen, told the Finnish news agency STT in July that it would be a natural move for Finland to close the Mariehamn mission as well.

The consulate has been the target of protests by local residents in Åland since February 2022, when Russia launched a stepped-up war on Ukraine.

11.59: Added details about Åland's status.

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