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Wednesday's papers: Finland "ordinary" EU country, Airiston Helmi suspect wants money back, ferry blackout

Newspapers this Wednesday discuss a EPC report on Finland's role in the EU, a bid to have 3.5m confiscated euros returned, and a loss of power at sea.

Finnlinesin M/S Finnfellow
MS Finnfellow's electricity went out last night, causing the ferry to return to Naantali. Image: AOP

Helsingin Sanomat reports on the disconnect between Finland's view of itself as a "model European Union member state" and the view of others.

A report published Tuesday from the European Policy Centre says that while Finland is seen as a constructive and forward-looking actor when it comes to innovation and education, it is a "more ordinary member state than it is perhaps willing to concede" in other areas of policymaking.

The report points out that from a circular economy perspective, Finland’s approach to bio-based materials undermines Europe's climate change mitigation and air quality objectives. The current government's policy encourages burning wood for energy, which increases rather than reduces greenhouse gas emissions, for example.

It also says that compared to the rest of the Nordics, Finland's goals to improve the use of renewable energy sources and attain carbon neutrality fall short. In the areas of heating, agricultural emissions, and transport emissions, Finland has made far fewer improvements than its northern neighbours, the report finds.

On waste management and recycling, HS reports that the EPC found Finland's performance to be below the EU average. In 2016, Finland recycled 42 percent of the municipal waste it generated, compared to almost 49 percent in Sweden and 66 percent in Germany. The ECP report also raps Finland for its lingering monopoly situations in the grocery and pharmacy market and rail transport.

Russian millionaire misses his money

Salon Seudun Sanomat continues coverage of the Airiston Helmi saga that began in September when police raided the Turku-area real estate firm on suspected involvement in an international money laundering scheme.

The paper reports that the main defendant in the case, a Russian businessman, has now submitted a request to the Southwest Finland District Court for the police to release the 3.5 million euros it found during the raid. Investigation head Antti Perälä tells the paper that the police are still of the opinion that "the prerequisites were met" to impound the cash.

The defendant's lawyer, Kari Uoti, (himself convicted of money laundering in 2006) claims the confiscated money came from his client's personal bank account and has no illicit connections. When asked why so much cash would be kept on the premises, Uoti says the multi-millionaire "doesn't trust the Russian banks". The money discovered in the raid was found in a safe and two suitcases.

The Russian businessman who is the main defendant in the case is still at large, and Uoti says he is unaware of his client's whereabouts.

170 passengers on board

And the southwest city of Turku's newspaper Turun Sanomat finishes this Wednesday's review with a story on a roll-on/roll-off and passenger ferry sailing for the Finnish shipping and freight company Finnlines that ran into technical difficulties at sea and had to turn back to its port of departure in southwest Naantali.

The paper reports that the MS Finnfellow lost its onboard electricity at around midnight, causing its engines to go silent. Two tugboats escorted the ferry safely back to the Naantali port, as the fault could not be repaired. TS says a shaft bearing in the ship's generator was damaged in the incident.

The ferry was carrying 170 people and freight from Naantali to the Swedish port of Kapellskär, north of Stockholm.

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