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Wednesday's papers: Military whistleblowers, bear invasions, and Finland's 'happiness guides'

The press looks at the Defence Forces' new initiative, the changing behaviour of bears, and a 'Rent a Finn' campaign.

Varusmiehen kädet.
Image: Toni Pitkänen / Yle

Jyväskylä daily Keskisuomalainen reports on the Finnish Defence Forces' introduction of an online reporting channel where employees can report issues such as inappropriate behaviour or financial misconduct.

The move comes after a number of incidents of alleged misconduct in the force have made headlines in recent months, including a military drill that got out of hand in the central Finland city of Jämsä last year. Another incident in Lemmenjoki is believed to have been one of the reasons behind Lieutenant General Jarmo Lindberg's decision to step down as Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces.

The paper quotes Tuija Sundberg, the Armed Forces' Legislative Enforcement Officer, as saying that the channel will be open to all employees.

"We encourage members to report using their own names, but anonymity is allowed. Anonymity is technically guaranteed so that the identity of the whistleblower is not traceable," she told the paper.

The Defence Forces employ about 12,000 people, of whom about 8,000 are soldiers and about 4,000 are civilians, according to KSML.

Bears getting braver

Tabloid Iltalehti looks at the changing behaviour of bears in Eastern Finland, citing the experiences throughout this summer of Anu Lammi, who lives in the village of Oskola near the city of Joensuu. Bears have been frequent visitors to Lammi’s yard over recent months, digging through her garbage cans and compost heap, and spreading the contents all over her garden.

According to Lammi, the bears are no longer afraid of humans. Instead of fleeing when they come face to face with people, as they previously did, bears now stand their ground.

"Bears have always been here, but something in their behaviour has clearly changed," she told IL.

Local police have tried various methods to discourage bears from entering the property, but the use of cameras, dogs and electric fences had no effect, and the animals kept coming. Eventually the police applied for and received a special permission to shoot the intruders, and a 170-kilogram male bear was shot on Sunday, according to Iltalehti.

A Finnish guide to happiness

Main daily Helsingin Sanomat profiles the experiences of two Japanese tourists who recently participated in a 'Rent a Finn' campaign, which provided them with a guided tour of some of Finland’s beauty spots by a local or 'happiness guide'.

According to HS, the purpose of the 'Rent a Finn' campaign, which is organised by tourism agency Visit Finland, is to promote Finland as the 'happiest country in the world' and to show visitors how Finnish nature can be used to help alleviate stress.

The Japanese couple featured by HS, Shun and Misato Sasaki, saw the announcement of the campaign on Visit Finland's Japanese Facebook page and applied because they had never been to Finland before. Out of a total of 6,000 applications received by Visit Finland, the Sasakis were two of only 18 tourists selected to visit Finland as part of the campaign.

The couple’s 'happiness guide', Juho Juutilainen from Helsinki is fluent in Japanese. He was born in Tokyo and had previously lived in Japan for twenty years, and told HS that he was enthusiastic to apply for the role of guide because he was able to look at Finland through the eyes of others.

"I'm sort of an outside Finn. In both cultures I feel I am both inside and outside at the same time, so I thought that I might have something different to offer," Juutilainen said.

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