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Friday's papers: Latvian booze cruising, wind farm outrage, municipal hockey jolly and a very Finnish catastrophe

Friday's papers include stories on the eternal Finnish quest for cheaper alcohol, a novel campaign from the Finns Party, an expensive and controversial trip for Espoo officials and a new twist on an old disaster movie for the Finnish national football team.

Koskenkorva, Leijona ja Suomi viina pulloja Alkossa
Booze is expensive in Finland--but not in Latvia. Image: Kalevi Rytkölä / Yle

Getting drunk is an expensive pastime in Finland, and down the years that's prompted resourceful people to find new ways to get tipsy. From stills in the barn to home brewed beer, it's a never-ending story and Iltalehti reports on Friday that there's now a new, Latvian chapter.

Since Estonia joined the European Union in 2000 travellers have been able to bring back plentiful supplies from Tallinn, which is just two hours from Helsinki on pleasant, regular and cheap ferry services. Sometimes it seems as though Finns barely notice the historic Old Town, the delightful Kalamaja district near the harbour or many of the stylish dining options the Estonian capital now offers, so focused are they on acquiring the maximum possible haul of 24-packs of sweetly haze-inducing lonkero and beer.

Unfortunately for these focused explorers, Tallinn isn't as cheap as it used to be thanks to hikes in alcohol taxes and increased prices in stores. Now the more intrepid booze cruisers are heading all the way to Valka in Latvia, and Iltalehti went with them.

That means big savings in Valka. A 1 litre bottle of Russian Standard vodka, for instance, costs 24.99 euros in the SuperAlko store in Tallinn, but just 13.74 euros at Alko1000 in Valka. IL interviews store owners in Valka who say that busloads of Finns come to stock up, but also individuals in their own cars--and on some days, according to one, 'it seems like there are only Finns here'.

The future for cheap booze hunters, it seems, is Latvian.

Finns Party's new windy target

There are municipal elections next April, and Finland's politicians are casting around for campaign themes and slogans. The Finns Party is in an interesting position: it is defending gains made in 2012 when it won 12.3 percent of the vote, but opinion polls show support well down on that figure.

Some Finns Party figures want to make immigration a big topic, but Ilta-Sanomat reports that on Thursday the party's eminence grise Matti Putkonen announced a new line of attack: wind power. He wants a moratorium on new wind turbines until more research is conducted into low frequency noise from the turbines and any possible health effects. He claims 600,000 Finns are at risk of these health effects.

He's also worried about the effect of wind power on bats. Apparently, he claims, they tend to fly into turbine blades and can also explode when in proximity to the renewable energy sources.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Thursday's press conference is Putkonen himself. He defected from the SDP in 2010, holds no official position in the party, but is close to leader Timo Soini and has given himself the title 'workman' while conducting regular wide-ranging policy briefings for journalists.

Hockey trip angers Espoo

Winter boat storage is a serious business in Finland, where waterways freeze up and most vessels need to be taken out of the water for the colder months of the year. So a trip to investigate how boat storage is done elsewhere should be a perfectly normal thing for municipal employees to do.

Except when the destination is as far away as Toronto, the cost was 15,000 euros, and the timing coincided with the ice hockey World Cup. That's the plan four Espoo council officials came up with and executed last month, and it did not please the municipality's elected councillors. They ordered a report on the matter and that was published on Thursday.

Helsingin Sanomat reports criticism from Maria Guzenina, a Social Democrat, and the Finns Party councillor Kurt Byman--but also a defence from Martti Merra, a National Coalition figure who went on the trip. He said that hockey wasn't the main point of their visit, and that people working in the council's leisure and recreation department should be able to go to sports events in their spare time.

Finland fail again

Finland's footballers have not had great success under Swedish coach Hans Backe, and that didn't change on Thursday night. They did score two goals for the first time since 2014 (when they beat the Faroe Islands), but two goals right at the death put paid to Finnish dreams of a win in Reykjavik against the newly resurgent Iceland team.

The winner was particularly controversial, with Finnish fans variously claiming that the goal was offside (it wasn't), the ball didn't cross the line before goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky had a hand on it (unclear), and that the final tip over the line occurred when the ball was in the keeper's control and therefore should have been disallowed (it did. We think.).

'Double Catastrophe' screamed Ilta-Sanomat, while Iltalehti went with 'Finland's black minutes'. Helsingin Sanomat probably struggled with the last-minute changes to their copy, with a 'Finland collapse right at the end' headline followed by a slightly odd 'dry season over' header on the colour comment piece alongside it that talked of the return to goal-scoring rather than the abysmal defending of crosses that caused the collapse.

At least they had a report though: thanks to cutbacks in production, Finland's Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet now has very early deadlines for sport content and had no mention of the game in the print edition.

Online was different, however, with HBL running a match report and HS carrying the memorable quote from Finnish goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky accusing the Norwegian referee of 'sh*tting his pants'.

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