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Thursday's papers: Soini strikes back, controversial war hero honoured, 'pulled oat' shortage, and Anttila anger

Thursday's newspapers include a riposte from under-fireForeign Minister Timo Soini, a trip to a controversial war hero's grave, a shortage of the new hit vegetarian food and shoppers' dismay at disappointing discounts.

Anttila, Kotka, Jumalniemi
Department store Anttila was overrun with bargain hunters during its bankruptcy sale on Wednesday. Image: Mari Pekkanen / Yle

Foreign Minister Timo Soini has been under fire in the press this summer. First he went to Britain in the aftermath of the referendum there, giving interviews in the media and offering his opinions on Brexit as a fellow Eurosceptic. Not as the Foreign Minister, as his trip was paid for by his Finns Party, but the public picture was a little confusing.

Then he has not been as quick to comment on several international events as some media outlets would like. He's on holiday, and he's going to enjoy it. The latest thing is the EU Council meeting he will miss--instead he'll send his political secretary, and there has been some criticism of his decision.

Today in Helsingin Sanomat he writes a response. He can't attend the EU meeting as he will be at his friend's wedding, and marriage is, to Catholic Soini, a 'holy sacrament'. Ministers have the right to a holiday, according to Soini.

"The political Secretary can't replace me at my friend's wedding, but he can at the EU summit," wrote Soini.

Defence Minister commemorates war heroes

Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö, meanwhile, isn't on holiday. He's visiting the United States for a meeting of the coalition against ISIS, but before his flight home he had a couple of hours to spare. With that time he visited the graves of two Finnish war heroes, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

So far, so normal, except that these two are pretty controversial figures. So much so that Niinistö is the first Defence Minister to leave an official commemoration at the graves, which are located at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

That's because Lauri Törni and Olavi Alakulppi went to the United States after the war and served in the military. Törni led a company renowned for daring and effective missions, and was so feared by the Soviets that they offered a bounty on his head. Alakulppi was found to be involved in the weapons cache case, in which senior Finnish officers planned to stash weapons ready for a popular uprising against possible Soviet occupation.

He escaped to Sweden and travelled with his family to the US. Törni, on the other hand, went to Germany for training in guerilla warfare ahead of a possible Soviet occupation, and then fought with the Germans in 1945 before surrendering to British and American forces. Both Törni and Alakulppi then joined the US military.

Törni died in Vietnam, and was posthumously promoted to Major, while Alakulppi was in Japan, Korea and Germany (where he was chauffeured by a young Elvis Presley), and ended up as a Lieutenant-Colonel.

Vegetarians go hungry

Finland's meat-avoiding community has been flush with excitement this year over a new product made of broad beans and oats that is, apparently, a very meat-like protein source made from finnish ingredients. Christened 'pulled oats' because of the reportedly similar texture it shares with pulled pork, the product has been extremely popular.

'Reportedly' and 'apparently' are appropriate because, like most of Finland, Yle News has scant experience of the new wonder product. There have been massive shortages, with shelves emptying almost as soon as they are filled and social media replete with anxious vegans seeking their oat-based sustenance.

No wonder that Helsingin Sanomat has a story on why the shops keep running out of this stuff. Manufacturer Gold&Green Foods says that production has been ramped up as planned, but they still haven't kept up with demand.

"Even if I paid a hundred new workers, it wouldn't help," said CEO Maija Itkonen, who adds she's wondered if pulled oats are Finland's own Pokemon such is their popularity.

The firm needs new equipment and delivery times are as long as six months, according to Itkonen. Next summer things will improve, but until then herbivorous Finns will have to make do with other sources of protein.

Anttila disappoints

The Anttila retailer is entering bankruptcy, and that should mean one thing: bargains galore. Unfortunately the store, which has lost popularity in recent years, is not living up to expectations.

They have advertised discounts of up to 80 percent, but when they opened their doors yesterday the flood of customers did not find quite what they wanted.

The tabloids have, naturally enough, had a field day. Iltalehti detailed many of the complaints circulating on social media and then asked the lawyer behind the bankruptcy process about the prices, and he robustly defended the firm.

They have kept their promises, most customers have been happy, and sales have been good, according to Mikko Tiilikka of the Krogerus law firm.

"But I understand that it's part of many Finns' nature to find things to complain about," said Tiilikka. "A small pessimistic minority find the negative side, but the vast majority are satisfied."

Customers online weren't convinced.

"Luckily there are other shops where undiscounted prices are lower than at Anttila's closing-down sale," said one Iltalehti reader.

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