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Wednesday's papers: National park limits, criminal gangs and nuclear questions

Wednesday's papers feature news on the proposal to limit the use of national parks, more international gangs and nuclear safety questions.

Hossa kansallispuisto Lost in Kainuu ulkoilu Julma-Ölkky
Hossa national park in Kainuu. Image: Sanna Kähkönen / Yle

Daily Maaseudun Tulevaisuus reports that the Finns Party youth organisation says it would limit the free use of national parks to Finnish citizens only. While growing tourism to Finland is a positive development, the country’s unique nature needs to be preserved for the next generations too, the group says.

"The forest is a church to Finns, and as a nationalistic youth organisation we are concerned about its state," the group's chair Samuli Voutila says in a statement.

”Will our magnificent national parks withstand the increasing number of visitors? And can foreigners correctly enjoy these rights that are inherent to Finns?” he asks.

As a result, the Finns Party juniors have proposed that foreign tourists and travel agencies should be required to buy a so called "forest permit" that allows non-citizens to roam in the woods based on the same rules as Finns.

The funds would be collected by Metsähallitus – a state-owned entity that manages public lands – and used to maintain the parks.

"To Finns, nature is not just a resource, but a holy place," Voutila adds.

Criminal gangs proliferate

Tabloid Iltalehti carries an article about new criminal gangs that have entered Finland in the past two years. These international gangs originate in Holland, Russia, the United States and Asia and operate globally, the paper says quoting the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

According to NBI police inspector Ari Lahtela, the underworld groups are active in the same areas as the more established ones.

"Drugs, violence and financial crime," he says.

At the moment, there are 80 different criminal gangs in Finland, with a total membership of 800 people, the NBI estimates.

"The gangs are more visible in large cities where they congregate. However, they manage the importation and distribution of drugs across the country, from Hanko to Utsjoki," Lahtela explains.

What's more, the criminal underworld is nervous about the new players, Iltalehti says. "The old gangs worry about the newcomers entering their markets and whether this will lead to a conflict," Lahtela says.

In Sweden, the gang situation looks quite difficult because the groups have become more international, causing tensions and violence.

"While the Swedish authorities recognised the situation already 10 years ago, not much has been done about it."

Nuclear safety questioned

Meanwhile, Oulu-based daily Kaleva reports that Finland's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (Stuk) has asked nuclear power company Fennovoima for more detailed reports about the power plant the company plans to construct in Pyhäjoki, northern Finland.

So far, the only area where Stuk has received adequate reports relates to waste disposal at the Hanhikivi site, Kaleva says.

Stuk director Petteri Tiippana says dealing with Fennovoima has been an exceptional process for Stuk.

"All parties need to learn about the ways the others operate and how these can be combined," Tiippana says.

Janne Nevalainen, Stuk's project manager responsible for the Hanhikivi plant, says Fennovoima needs to step up its game.

"In future, Fennovoima must provide analyses and plans specific to this plant. We cannot make decisions based on information and assumptions from other power plants."

Stuk has been worried about Fennovoima’s management and safety culture for quite a while, Kaleva reports.

"All plans and decisions taken at Fennovoima should be based on exact and thorough studies. We are unsure whether this has happened," Nevalainen says.

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