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Friday's papers: Secret land deals, Russia's old consular office and questionable practices

For six years now, the Finnish Defence Forces have been making pre-emptive land deals near strategic sites in eastern Finland, Helsingin Sanomat reports on Friday.

Aerial view of green forest.
Landowners in eastern parts of the country have been more receptive to allowing the defence forces to potentially use their property since Russia invaded Ukraine. Image: Niko Mannonen / Yle
Yle News

Helsingin Sanomat suggests that the Finnish Defence Forces (FDF) are "secretly" fortifying Finland's eastern border. This is piquing the interest of readers of the daily, making the story the daily's most-read article on Friday morning.

Some six years ago the FDF quietly starte entering into voluntary agreements with landowners in eastern Finland to enable the construction of fortifications with as little as a day's notice.

Landowners have, according to HS, been more receptive to these deals since Russia invaded Ukraine last year.

"Attitudes have become more positive. People have understood what these agreements are for," the FDF's Sauli Hongisto told the paper.

Those signing up to the 20-year contract receive a one-time compensation of 750 euros, but should the defence forces actually need to build anything on the property, they government will pay out 4,800 euros per hectare.

From consulate to daycare

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.

At the same time officials in Turku are wondering how to repurpose Russia's former Consulate General in the city, reports Turun Sanomat. This past summer the Finnish government withdrew its consent for the consular office, and Russia's permit for the facility expires on Sunday.

The future use of the vacant, state-owned plot and building remains uncertain for now. However, an idea has emerged for the building to host a daycare centre, although officials said they must first investigate the condition of the vacated property.

Convicted doctor

Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet asks how a doctor who lost his license to practice medicine in Sweden and Norway over child pornography offences was able to continue working in Finland.

Swedish authorities in 2020 determined that the man was not fit to work as a doctor in that country, following a conviction for the possession and dissemination of child pornography.

Finnish officials, however, took a different approach, according to the paper. Since the crimes were committed during his free time, he was allowed to continue working as a doctor in Finland, where he operated in Swedish speaking areas.

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