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Wednesday’s papers: New Hakkarainen misconduct claim, Onnibus cartel fight and Finnish peacekeeping espionage

The newspapers on Wednesday cover stories ranging from the latest revelations about a Finns Party MP to plans to expand Finnish spying capabilities.

Onnibusin linja-auto kaukoliikenteen terminaalissa Helsingin Kampissa.
Onnibus has shaken up the Finnish bus market in recent years. Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Teuvo Hakkarainen has had quite a week, after he forcefully kissed fellow MP Veera Ruoho while drunk at parliament last Thursday. He now faces a criminal investigation, has resigned his position as vice-chair of the Finns Party, and been given a severe reprimand.

The colourful Central Finland MP has been convicted of incitement to ethnic hatred, and has a reputation as a less than serious politician. On Wednesday Päivi Räsänen, the former leader of the Christian Democrats, detailed an incident in which Hakkarainen had grabbed her by the hair while drunk.

Speaking to Ilta-Sanomat, Räsänen said that she had encountered Hakkarainen outside the little parliament annexe building, and he had grabbed her by the hair so hard her scalp hurt. He was clearly drunk at the time, according to the paper.

She then goes on to explain her supportive relationship with Hakkarainen, who did not remember the incident but apologized immediately and even gave her a Christmas present.

Onnibus compensation complaint

Helsingin Sanomat reports that last week the cheap long-distance bus firm Onnibus won a case brought by the Competition and Consumer Authority against incumbents in the industry for restrictive practices intended to foil EU directives to liberalise the long-distance bus industry in Finland.

The Market Court found in favour of the authority’s arguments, ruling that the firms formed a cartel from 2010 until 2015, and this week gave its verdict on punishment.

That’s where their opinions diverged, as the plaintiffs had sought some 38 million euros in compensation from ten firms found to be involved in a cartel.

The court, however, mandated just 1.1 million euros in compensation. The competition regulator is set to appeal the verdict in the Supreme Administrative Court. They also believe the cartel was in operation for a longer period, having started in 2008.

Peacekeeping espionage

Helsingin Sanomat continues its series of stories about intelligence activities in Finland, on Wednesday focusing on human intelligence. This is relatively undeveloped in Finland, with a training centre in Tuusula used by the Defence Forces to train peacekeepers heading abroad, among others.

They are not engaged in intelligence operations, exactly, and certainly not covert activities, but they do receive basic advice on how to avoid drawing attention to themselves and how to handle any intelligence they do end up with.

The HS story emphasises that Finland’s proposed new intelligence law would provide a legal framework for covert operations abroad, and even surveillance of foreign embassy workers based in Finland. At present Finland does not conduct those activities.

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