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Friday's papers: Ukraine plane aftermath, Microsoft layoff reaction, and a good day for RoPS

The press is dominated by the loss of Malaysian airlines flight MH17 in Ukraine and the mass layoffs announced by Microsoft on Thursday, but Finnish football also gets a look in after a sterling performance from northern club RoPS.

Palomiehet sammuttavat palavaa koneen runkoa.
Fireman damp down the flames at the crash sight in eastern Ukraine. Image: Alexander Khudoteply / AFP

The papers are dominated by the alleged shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine. The details and photos are similar to those in the international press: flight MH17 had dropped out of the sky with 295 people on board, possibly after it was shot down over eastern Ukraine. Ilta-Sanomat reported international demands for an impartial investigation, with several figures blaming the pro-Russia separatists in the east of the country.

None of the Finnish papers managed to get a reporter to the crash site before their print deadlines (in part because foreign desks are focused on Gaza--Helsingin Sanomat has produced several first-hand accounts from there), so they were left to improvise. No Finns were onboard but the papers did manage to find some Finnish angles to the story.

Helsingin Sanomat dug out some military hardware info and found that the model of BUK anti-aircraft gun used--according to Ukrainian government sources--to shoot down MH17 is also part of Finland's arsenal. Refitted models were shipped from Russia to Finland in the 1990s to fulfil obligations under bilateral trade treaties signed in the Soviet era.

Ilta-Sanomat ran a Finnair tweet in which the national flag-carrier sought to reassure passengers. "For those of you wondering, Finnair does not fly over Ukraine. Your safety is our top priority," tweeted the airline just hours after the news broke. Social media is an unforgiving medium, however, and it didn't take long for the airline's audience to notice that on the Flightradar flight tracking website at least, several flights seemed to have flown over Ukrainian airspace.

IS called the airline's communications chief Aku Varamäki to check. She said that Flightradar's data was incomplete and that Finnair does not fly over Ukrainian territory. After the paper had gone to print, however, the airline tweeted an apology and said that it does, in fact, fly over western Ukraine. Interestingly enough, the apology was in Finnish even though the original tweet was in English.

Microsoft sackings in the spotlight

The other big news on Friday is Microsoft's decision to axe 18,000 jobs worldwide with 1,100 of them in Finland. 12,500 of the job losses will be among people who transferred from Nokia after the Finnish company's mobile devices unit was sold to Microsoft. The worst of the Finnish cuts will fall on Oulu, which will lose a research and development facility that currently employs some 500 people.

'Broken promises' is the Iltalehti headline over a picture of the grinning duo who engineered the Nokia sale, Steve Ballmer and Stephen Elop. 'Microsoft betrayed Oulu' is business daily Kauppalehti's take, as the paper bemoans the end of Oulu's history in the phone-making business, with a double page spread detailing Oulu's hopes of rising from the ruins of Microsoft.

Those hopes rest on the city's other big employers, car electronics firm Elektrobit and Polar Electro, which makes heart rate monitors. "Oulu is having a hard time of it just now, but we have to stay positive," said Elektrobit CEO Juha Hulko.

Meanwhile the paper's New York correspondent Petri Koskinen offers the Microsoft analysts' view, which is that new CEO Satya Nadella is cleaning up the mess left by his predecessor Steve Ballmer.

"Wall Street welcomed the layoffs with a bump in the share price," wrote Koskinen.

Finnish analyst Tero Kuittinen of BGR had a slightly different take. He pointed out the extreme difficulty of starting a mass consumer business from scratch, saying that Nokia's achievement in doing so was remarkable.

"Only Nokia was able to enter the mobile phone industry through an implausible non-consumer electronics route that led from a rubber factory to cable manufacturing operations to professional radio phones to mobile handsets," wrote Kuitinen. "After the consumer electronics unit of Nokia was sold to Microsoft, launching a new consumer business would require a similar lottery win."

RoPS light up Lapland--from Oulu

There was one small bright bit of news from Oulu yesterday, and it came on the sports field. Laplanders Rovaniemen Palloseura (RoPS) played their first European football since 1987, and even though they could not play at home in Rovaniemi because of stadium requirements, they managed to surpass expectations and get a 1-1 draw with Greek side Ateras Tripoli in the second qualifying round of the Europa League.

Rovaniemi paper Lapin Kansa called it a 'manly performance' which gives them a chance of progression in the second leg next week. The 3,242 crowd was also a victory for RoPS, who were forced to play their 'home' leg in Oulu, some 221km from their real home stadium.

The other Finnish club in action on Thursday evening had a less successful evening. MYPA, from Anjalankoski in the south-east, lost 3-0 to Dinamo Minsk in Belarus and are now all but out of the competition.

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