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Thursday’s papers: Lavrov visit, Tennessee tyres, beer and comic book sales stunts

Finnish newspapers on Thursday morning are busy dissecting the TV debate between French presidential candidates, the upcoming US vote to overturn Obamacare, and a mysterious emergency meeting of Buckingham Palace staff. However domestic issues dominate, including a visit by the Russian foreign minister and proposed changes to unemployment benefits.

Nokian panimo.
A Tampere brewery is selling beer by the 1000-pack. Image: Antti Eintola / Yle

Many papers cite a scoop by the leading daily Helsingin Sanomat, which reports that the government plans to unveil a bill on Friday that would significantly change the unemployment benefits system. Under the plan, says HS, a jobseeker would have to apply for at least 12 jobs within a three-month period to be eligible for jobless benefits for the following two months. The paper says the original plan would have required at least 15 applications, but that the minimum was lower to an average of one per week.

AL previews Russian visits

Tampere's Aamulehti looks at Russia’s attitude toward its relations with Finland, which is now more constructive than it has been for years, says Dr Hanna Smith, a researcher at Helsinki University's Aleksanteri Institute, which focuses on Russia and Eastern Europe.

As a sign of this change, Smith points to how the Russian Foreign Ministry has previewed Thursday's visit to Finland by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that "the two sides have been able to scale back the adverse impact on bilateral ties from the unfavourable political climate and the EU's destructive policy towards Russia, which is even backed by Finland, by using decades of experience and a tradition of constructive and pragmatic interaction."

Lavrov meets in the late morning with his Finnish opposite number Timo Soini in Porvoo, where the government holds a special public session as part of commemorations of the centennial of Finnish independence. In the afternoon Lavrov will hold talks with President Sauli Niinistö at Mäntyniemi, his official residence in Helsinki. Among other issues, they are to plan for President Vladimir Putin's visit to Finland this summer. A date for that visit has not yet been announced.

US tyres and mega-pack beer

Aamulehti also called the mayor of Dayton, Tennessee, which was named on Thursday as the site of Nokian Tyres' first North American plant. Gary Louallen is mayor of the town of 7,200, which is located about 60 kilometres from Chattanooga. He assured the Tampere newspaper that everyone in town is very excited about the factory, which is set to become its biggest employer. "I've had many sleepless nights while we've been fighting for this," Louallen said.

Meanwhile AL notes that another firm from the town of Nokia near Tampere is also making headlines in the US. The Nokian Panimo brewery has launched a “1000-pack” of beer, which earned an article and video from the newsmagazine Time. The mid-sized brewery’s publicity stunt came in response to a rival’s launch of a 100-pack of beer cans.

TS:  Comic book extravaganza

Turun Sanomat notes that a Turku-based comic book chain is taking part in the international Free Comic Book Day next Saturday, May 6. Besides central Turku, the Turun Sarjakuvakauppa chain has shops in Oulu and Helsinki.

Free Comic Book Day was launched 15 years ago in North America with the aim of supporting traditional brick-and-mortar comic book shops, which like independent book and record stores are a vanishing breed. On the day, publishers release comic books that are not available anywhere else. Those taking part include major publishers such as DC and Marvel, as well as more niche producers such as Fantagraphics, Dark Horse, Drawn & Quarterly, Titan and Boom!

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