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Tuesday's papers: Russian media mouths off, Dry January and a deal for students

As the US and Nato brace for a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, Finnish papers explore Russian media reactions to Finland's Nato discussions.

Finland has observed Dry January or "tipaton tammikuu" for decades, all while maintaining a state monopoly on alcohol sales. Image: Petri Aaltonen / Yle

Russia is less than thrilled by the prospect of Nato expanding to its northwestern border. That said, Russian media has been criticising Finland and Sweden for revisiting the issue of Nato membership, writes Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

While some Russian commentators have said Russia's actions were driving Finland into Nato's arms, other have suggested that Finland is not acting in a neighbourly way. Media reports have, for example, called Finland's purchase of F-35s an "unfriendly gesture towards Russia."

State news outlet Ria Novosti has claimed Finland's President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Sanna Marin were either wittingly or unwittingly playing into the US-led alliance's hands. A Russian defence-focused think tank meanwhile published an article suggesting that "it would be best to warn northern neighbours what awaits them if they choose the wrong side and what will be left of them if they do."

Russia's official policy towards Finnish Nato membership has meanwhile not changed. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently said Russia respects Finnish and Swedish sovereignty and that it was up to "their people" whether or not to join the alliance.

Will Finland join Nato? This week's All points North takes stock of the debate. After months of discussion and diplomacy from political leaders, Finland's attachment to the so-called 'Nato option' is clear.

Daily drinkers

With Finland in the middle of its annual month of alcohol abstinence, tipaton tammikuu, readers of Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) are flocking to a story about alcohol triggering liver damage sooner than people think.

As in the rest of Europe, liver disease is a growing problem in Finland, according to Kaarlo Simojoki, an addiction expert at the University of Helsinki.

Drinking one to three servings of alcohol with a meal on a daily basis is enough to cause cirrhosis of the liver if this habit persists for a longer period.

"This is something people don't understand. When it comes to liver health, another thing that's important—in addition to amounts—is whether the liver is put under regular strain," Simojoki explained.

Studying pays

Business magazine Talouselämä (siirryt toiseen palveluun) reports that graduating in time pays, citing a Kela study showing it partially reimbursed student loans belonging to around 55,000 people between 2015 and 2021 for graduating in time.

Finland's policy of partially reimbursing state-backed student loans for those finishing school in time led more people to take out loans. The share of students taking out loans rose from 55 to 63 percent, while the total size of average loans grew from some 12,000 to 14,000 euros.

Figures indicate that the state's carrot to get people into the workforce faster has led to 55 percent of students graduating in the allotted time, up from 48 percent in 2014.

Loan reimbursements cover 40 percent of loans exceeding 2,500 euros.