STT: Armed forces to investigate dual citizen claims

The military is to investigate claims that dual Finnish-Russian citizens are not allowed to take on certain roles in the armed forces, according to the news agency STT. The move follows reports that the Kainuu brigade of Finland's army told conscripts at an info session in January that dual citizens would not be allowed to participate in training to operate drones. The brigade now says that the trainer in charge of the session misspoke.

Finland's military is in the spotlight this week. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

STT reports that the armed forces suspect that dual Finnish-Russian citizens may have been discriminated against in the roles they are permitted to take on, and has launched an investigation.

The move follows a string of reports of such restrictions in the armed forces and the foreign ministry. Discriminating against individuals on grounds of citizenship is prohibited by the constitution, and the reports were originally denied by the Defence Minister.

He said that Yle's reporting on Tuesday of an email in which the restrictions were laid out was "fake news"

Drone training

On Thursday Yle reported that conscripts in the Kainuu brigade of Finland's army were told that dual citizens could not take part in training to fly drones. The head of training in the brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Pekka Soini, admitted that the conscripts were told about the restriction, but now says that trainer made a mistake.

"Yes, at the MUAS-info (an info session on mini-drones) it was said like that," said Soini. "The trainer has received feedback from me and will correct his own actions. The mistake has happened. Now it's been directed that in future mistakes are not made. It's everyone's task to ensure that dual citizens are not sidelined because of their citizenship."

Finland mandates military or civilian service for all male citizens under 30, and those undertaking the military option attend a range of info sessions to find about different tasks. Soini says one company attended the MUAS info, which would indicate between 150 and 200 people were present.

"No discrimination"

He said that he had now he had directed the unit's officers to ensure that nobody in future "says something that isn't true".

Soini said that nobody in the Kainuu brigade has their responsibilities restricted because they hold dual citizenship, because of their gender or religion, but tasks are allocated based on knowledge, skills and attitude—although a criminal record could prevent selection for some duties.

Yle reported on Tuesday that the defence forces restrict the roles and responsibilities of dual Finnish-Russian citizens for security reasons.

Helsingin Sanomat reported on Thursday that a dual national had been prevented from taking up a post with the Foreign Ministry because they held Russian citizenship. The foreign ministry, defence ministry and General Staff have all denied issuing directives allowing discrimination against dual Finnish-Russian citizens.