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Tuesday's papers: German terror suspects linked to Soldier of Odin, tax fraud and a sinking apartment block in Tampere

Finland's possible connection to German terrorist suspects and a building on the brink of collapse are among Tuesday's topics.

Maa on sortunut talon ympäriltä
An apartment block in Tampere is on the verge of collapse. Image: Antti Eintola / Yle

Finland’s Soldiers of Odin share links with members of a German far-right group who were arrested last week under suspicion of plotting "shocking" large-scale attacks on mosques, reports daily Helsingin Sanomat.

Soldiers of Odin is a far-right extremist group that was established in Finland in late autumn 2015.

"The suspected leader of the German terrorist group seems to have been in contact with German groups that previously were called Soldiers of Odin," Tommi Kotonen from University of Jyväskylä who researches extremism and far-right movement stated in the HS report.

Media reported on Sunday that the far-right group in Germany was planning a mosque strike similar to the gruesome massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand last year killing more than 50 people. German media also reported on the suspects’ links to the Soldiers of Odin movement in Finland.

Mika Ranta, founder of the Soldiers of Odin was quoted as saying he is not aware of any such connection but considers it possible for the German suspects to have contact with some of his members or their friends.

"Our organisation's operations do not include attack planning," Ranta added.

Kotonen said different wings of Soldiers of Odin had earlier been established in Germany in regions such as Bavaria and Hesse. Their names have been changed since but they still operate in a similar manner.

The leader of the group suspected of plotting the mosque attack seems to have been linked to the Wodans Erben far-right group in Germany which has also operated under the name Soldiers of Odin, Kotonen told HS.

Other members of the suspected German terrorist group are known to have been active in another extremist group called Vikings Security Germania, previously called Soldiers of Odin.

Medlem av den fosterländska organisationen Soldiers of Odin.
Image: Minna Aula / Yle

Soldiers of Odin have ceased operations in several countries outside Finland, but some of the former members have moved to other groups or formed new ones themselves.

However according to the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service (SUPO), the various divisions of the Soldiers of Odin operate independently.

"We do not have any information about possible contacts of those arrested in Germany with Finland," Supo officials told HS.

They also stated that up to now, Soldiers of Odin have not been seen as a danger to national security in Finland. Their activities are considered a threat to public order and security activities, officials told HS.

Cops seize Russian millionaire’s property

The District Court of Southwest Finland has issued orders to seize Russian millionaire Pavel Melnikov’s property worth nearly 2.4 million euros as part of a major tax fraud investigation.

Helsingin Sanomat reports that the district court suspects Melnikov, the owner of the infamous real estate firm Airiston Helmi, of committing aggravated tax fraud between 2008-2018 and aggravated pension contribution fraud between 2010-2018.

Tabloid Iltalehti reported that the value of the property seized by cops is equivalent to the amount of tax evasion and pension fraud committed by Melnikov.

Melnikov’s company has been at the centre of a long joint investigation, as it is believed to have laundered millions of euros and used off-the-books labour to build several properties in the southwest Finland archipelago.

The National Board of Investigation and the police conducted a sweeping raid of 20 locations owned by Airiston Helmi in September 2018. They seized 3.5 million euros in cash at the time.

HS explains that authorities use the coercive measure of confiscating assets during criminal investigations to recover the payment of fines or costs of criminal proceeds that may be borne by the state. The National Bureau of Investigation filed the claim for the seizure of Melnikov’s property on the basis of the tax authorities' end-of-year audit report.

Police are still waiting for international legal assistance requests to be completed before they can proceed with investigations on the original money-laundering case.

Tampere’s sinking building

Most papers in Finland carried shocking photos of a two-storey apartment building in the city of Tampere which is on the brink of collapse.

Iltalehti first reported that the ground under the apartment building which is located on a slope seems to be dramatically giving away. The residents of the A block of the building — four families — now face evacuation with the foundations threatening to collapse at any moment.

The houses were built in the early 1980s. The site has been cordoned off and is being monitored closely. Soil experts speculate that the mild winter with heavier rainfall than usual could be one of the reasons for the erosion.

IL quotes Eija Muttonen-Mattila, head of the building supervision at the City of Tampere who was on a holiday when she heard the news as saying that this is the worst situation she has ever encountered in her career.

"This is an exceptional case. The housing board should have immediately contacted the rescue department and the city authorities.”

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