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Four face charges over alleged discrimination against Finnish-Russian dual citizen

Police say that the four suspects may have discriminated against a job applicant who was not hired, allegedly due to her Finnish-Russian dual nationality.

Varusmies ottamassa ruokaa linjastolta.
Image: Jarmo Nuotio / Yle

The National Bureau of Investigation has asked the office of the Prosecutor General to consider laying charges in the case of four people suspected of discriminating against a prospective employee because of her Finnish-Russian dual citizenship.

Police say that the four suspects may have discriminated against the woman since she was not hired, allegedly due to her Finnish-Russian dual nationality.

“The central factor in this case has been the suspicion that a person who sought work at a temp firm did not get the job because of her dual nationality,” said NBI lead investigator Jari Nieminen told Yle.

According to Nieminen, three of the four suspects work for the temp firm and the other for another company that provides catering services to the Defence Forces.

“Police will not comment on the names of the companies or on the individuals’ positions in the firms,” Nieminen added.

Last year, Yle reported that the firm at the centre of a dust-up over the hiring of a dual citizen was Kairest Ltd. The other suspect therefore works for Leijona Catering, a firm responsible for providing meal services for the Defence Forces.

Police said that they do not suspect anyone working at the Defence Forces’ Vekaranjärvi garrison – the site where the prospective employee had applied to work -- of any crimes in relation to the case.

All four suspects have denied any wrongdoing.

Disappointment for Kouvola woman

The woman at the centre of the case, a Kouvola resident, said that she had seen a job vacancy ad placed by Kairest seeking canteen employees to work at a customer site. The advert claimed that applicants needed basic training in the sector or related work experience, as well as a hygiene card and a health certificate indicating they were free of salmonella as well as at least passable Finnish language skills.

Yelena* said that she applied to Kairest for the position. However it soon transpired that the customer site was no ordinary restaurant, but the Defence Forces’ Vekaranjärvi garrison canteen.

“I was happy when it turned out to be a garrison canteen. I thought it would be a safe and steady workplace,” the woman told Yle last year.

Dual citizenship "won't work"

Kairest responded to Yelena’s application, saying that it would attempt to offer her a position that corresponded to her level of training. She was also reminded that she would need the health certificate and hygiene card.

She then responded by email saying that she already had the hygiene card and would be receiving the health certificate in a few days. However she received another surprising note from Kairest that same day.

It said, “Our customer requires employees to have Finnish citizenship; dual citizenship will not work,” thus ending Yelena’s path to employment at the garrison canteen.

“I believed that I was getting a secure job. But suddenly I was the security threat,” Yelena said to Yle last spring.

Last year Yle reported that the informal guidance on hiring dual nationals originated with the Defence Forces Intelligence Agency.

*Name changed by Yle at interviewee's request.

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