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Anti-immigrant agitator Janitskin running for Finnish, EU parliament seats

Convicted anti-immigrant agitator Ilja Janitskin is one of two new candidates running on Paavo Väyrynen's Seven Star Movement ticket.

Tähtiliikkeen Paavo Väyrynen kertoi Ilja Janitskinin ja Pirkko Turpeinen-Saaren olevan liikkeen ehdokkaat eduskunta- ja eurovaaleissa.
From left: Ilja Janitskin, Pirjo Turpeinen-Saari and Paavo Väyrynen at a press conference in Helsinki on Tuesday. Image: Mikko Stig / Lehtikuva

The founder of the anti-immigrant website MV-lehti, Ilja Janitskin, has announced he is running for both the Finnish and EU parliaments on the ticket of Paavo Väyrynen's relatively new political party the Seven Star Movement.

On Tuesday, Väyrynen sat alongside Janitskin at a press conference in Helsinki and said that Janitskin is a "star candidate" of the Seven Star Movement.

Väyrynen said that Janitskin is a man who's better than his reputation and that he was unfairly treated. He added that he was not concerned about having a convicted man represent the party.

"If it were a question of a murderer or a thief the situation would be completely different. The court case is quite unusual. I don't see that it would be an obstacle to [his] candidacy," he observed.

Last October, the Helsinki District Court sentenced the immigrant agitator Janitskin to 22 months in jail after finding him guilty of 16 criminal charges related to his websites.

The charges included aggravated defamation, aggravated incitement against an ethnic group and copyright infringement, among others.

The court also ordered Janitskin to pay the lion's share of a reported 200,000 euros in damages to harassment victims after he, Johan Bäckman and another individual were found guilty of harassing and defaming Yle journalist Jessikka Aro and inciting others to defame her.

Bäckman is a Finnish academic known known for publicly championing Russian child custody rights abroad.

Politician with communist past also running

Another addition to the Seven Star Movement's roster, veteran politician Pirjo Turpeinen-Saari, made her first formal appearance during Tuesday's press conference since announcing last week that she's also running for the Finnish and EU parliaments on the party ticket.

Turpeinen-Saari, a child psychologist, lives in southern Finland's region of Raseborg but will aiming for a lawmaker's seat as a Helsinki candidate.

Turpeinen-Saari served as MP in 1983-1986 as a member of the political group the Finnish People's Democratic League (SDKL), an organisation regarded by many at the time as a communist front.

The group was one of the largest leftist parties in western Europe. In its heyday, the Finnish Communist Party was the SDKL's main member party, and one of the biggest communist parties west of the Iron Curtain.

Then, in 1986-1987 Turpeinen-Saari served as MP for the communist breakaway group the Democratic Alternative and was married to the former chair of Finland's Communist Party Jouko Kajanoja from 1985-1996.

Turpeinen-Saari has also written several books, including one in 1986 about the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

In a more recent book published in 2016, she accused Finland's military leader Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim of having inflamed the conflict between Finland and the Soviet Union into war in 1939.

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