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Monday’s papers: Moscow crash, nuclear delay, quota refugees, snowboard bronze

The Finnish press starts the week with Sunday’s air disaster near Moscow, a nuclear postponement and a second Finnish medal at the Winter Olympics.

Enni Rukajärvi pronssi
Enni Rukajärvi wins a windy bronze. Image: AOP

The Oulu daily Kaleva considers Sunday’s jet crash near Moscow, noting that the death toll of 71 is more than twice all of last year’s fatalities in major plane accidents. It’s also the first crash of a passenger jet since 2016. It remains unclear why the aircraft came down shortly after takeoff, with authorities saying that terrorism cannot be ruled out. Aviation experts say there are suggestions that the plane may have come apart before impact with the ground.

The paper also updates its readers on the long-running saga of the Fennovoima nuclear power station planned for Pyhäjoki, just down the coast from Oulu. The company has announced yet another delay in providing documents to the nuclear safety watchdog STUK, needed before a decision can be made on whether to grant a construction permit.

The firm admits that most of the tens of thousands of pages of data are still missing. It says that most of the documents will be submitted by the end of this year, rather than this summer as it had earlier promised. Fennovoima says it is now “clarifying the timetable” with Rosatom, the Russian state-owned conglomerate that is contracted to build the plant. Fennovoima still hopes for approval next year and an operational facility by 2024.

Windswept slopestyle

Along with sports news from local ice hockey rinks and ski trails, the paper's online version carries an interview with Finnish snowboarder Enni Rukajärvi, who won bronze in the women's slopestyle event early Monday Finnish time, the country's second medal at the games. Rukajärvi says she believes that the event should have been postponed due to dangerously strong winds. Kaleva also carries a profile of Jari Lipponen, CEO of Äx, Finland’s biggest record store chain, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary amid a resurgence of vinyl LP sales.

KSLM: Minister wants more refugees

Keskisuomalainen, based in south-central Jyväskylä, leads off its online version with Rukajärvi's medal before moving on to the Moscow crash. The paper says that the plane's two so-called black boxes have been found and looks back at four major aviation accidents in Russia in recent years as well as the crash of a Russian plane in Egypt in 2015.

The daily also has an interview with Kai Mykkänen of the conservative National Coalition Party, who takes over today as Interior Minister, moving up from his previous post as Minister for Foreign Trade and Development. Mykkänen says he would consider a roughly tenfold increase in Finland's intake of quota refugees to 10,000 people annually. In recent years the number has fluctuated between 750 and 1050. Mykkänen says that the real problem is not the number of asylum seekers who come to Europe, but rather how to effectively determine which of them are genuinely in need of help.

MT: Paper profits, free lunches

The national agrarian paper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus leads off with a look at the forest industry, long a mainstay of the Finnish economy. The country's three biggest firms had a strong year in 2017, posting their best results since around the turn of the millennium. UPM had the biggest profit margin, representing nearly 13 percent of turnover. Metsä and Stora Enso were not far behind, around 11 and 10 percent respectively.

Turning to social issues, MT headlines another front-page article "Finland's pride and first in the world: Free school meals for all children for 70 years". In 1948, Finland became the first country to require all primary schools to serve pupils a free daily hot meal. The paper quotes Marjaana Manninen, a senior official at the Finnish National Agency for Education, who notes that each school meal is a learning opportunity that is repeated daily for at least a decade for each child.

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