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Friday's papers: Budget impact, Mannerheim memories and sleeping outdoors

Friday's newspapers include stories on the real-world impact of next year's budget decisions, rumbling controversy in Russia over a memorial to Mannerheim, and tips on how to enjoy a night spent sleeping under the stars.

Daily newspapers.
Image: E.D.Hawkins / Yle

Friday's newspapers include some analysis of the budget, which was finally published in full on Thursday. The plan has been drip-fed over several weeks now, with many decisions taken in principle but not applied in practice--so Thursday's document sheds a little more light on how people can expect government to affect their finances in 2017.

Tampere daily Aamulehti, which often seems to take a strong interest in motoring issues, leads with the impact of changes in petrol and vehicle taxes. "This is now taxable" screams the front page, under a picture of a family of five on their two motorcycles and sidecars, noting that lighter motorised vehicles will henceforth be subject to a vehicle tax.

That tax will likely be between 100 and 300 euros, according to tax officials asked by AL, and will mean biker families like those featured by Aamulehti have a hefty bill to pay.

Iltalehti, meanwhile, focuses on the cuts in income tax. It has a table listing the impact on incomes as calculated by the taxpayers association, a lobby group. That says that those with a 20,000 euro annual income will be some 232 euros better off in 2017, while those making 120,000 euros will benefit to the tune of 444 euros over twelve months.

Helsingin Sanomat, meanwhile, leads with the news that the cost of receiving asylum seekers is slated to reduce by 45 percent next year. The government is planning to receive some 10,000 asylum seekers, a big drop on the 30,000 that arrived in 2015 but well in line with this year, during which just over 4,000 arrived so far.

Mannerheim in the news

HS also carries a big story on the ongoing, slightly odd controversy in Saint Petersburg over a memorial plaque to Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, a Finnish war hero and statesman who started his career in the imperial tsarist army before leading white forces in the Finnish civil war after the Russian revolution.

Mannerheim moved to Saint Petersburg when he was twenty and spent the next thirty years close to power in Russia. He rose through the ranks and won some important honours from the Russian military, so perhaps it's only natural that he is honoured by the Cavalry school that trained him in Saint Petersburg.

Unfortunately he also has several German military honours, including an Iron cross awarded for his role in Germany's 1918 offensive in the Baltic states and Finland and also some Nazi awards given during the second world war. Crucially, he is criticised in Russia for participating in the siege of Leningrad, which killed hundreds of thousands of people.

In Finland the view is that Mannerheim was a reluctant participant, and did not attack the city despite German exhortations to do so. Russians don't quite see it like that, and so the memorial is extremely controversial and the subject of some protests. HS interviews several Russian historians who suggest the plaque should be located in Finland, or removed altogether, along with some locals uninterested in history.

As always with Russian reporting, statements by those in power are open to interpretation. In this case it's clear that the government supported the plaque, but ministers have since failed to defend the decision in public--leaving its fate in the balance, especially with elections coming up soon.

Russian media has been stirring up controversy on the issue, with NTV broadcasting a one-sided programme about Mannerheim's life and works and other media covering the protests. Elina Kahla, who leads the Finnish Institute in Saint Petersburg, says that the plaque is so sensitive now because the centenary of the events of 1917--and all they meant for both Finland and Russia--is approaching.

Marina Vlasova, whose husband Leonid wrote 17 books on Mannerheim and who is herself an expert on the Marshall of Finland, tells HS that the battle over his memory is heartbreaking.

"However high Baron Mannerheim rose in office in Finland, in his soul he remained a Russian officer who traversed all of Russia and risked his life for Russia," said Vlasova.

Sleep outdoors!

On Saturday night, thousands of Finns will spend the night outside in a celebration of the great outdoors imported from Norway. The event has attracted thousands of participants on Facebook, and HS and HBL have some tips on how to enjoy a night spent with fewer creature comforts.

Weather-appropriate clothes, a dry and warm spare set of clothes, a down jacket, a sleeping bag and some protection from the rain are the key tips from Sampsa Suloinen, an Espoo-based outdoor sleeping enthusiast interviewed by HS.

HBL, meanwhile, suggests taking board games along with you in case boredom sets in.

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