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Wednesday's papers: Parliament rush vote, new Turku sting evidence, schools' director raps MP

Finland's papers follow up on Parliament's vote to hurry along a constitutional amendment, new evidence in the Airiston Helmi case and a Finns Party MP chided by Tampere's education director.

Soinin luottamusäänestyksen tulos.
MPs vote Wednesday on the urgency of changing the constitution for a new intelligence bill. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

As union strike action against government's proposal to make firing people easier in small firms starts in earnest all around the country on Wednesday, papers offer information on the repercussions. Many services will be affected, read about the coming changes here.

Other headlines offer follow-up news on parliament's rush vote on whether the constitution should be changed for a new law proposal, which Helsingin Sanomat reports not all parties are fine with.

A majority of at least five-sixths is needed on Wednesday for parliament to decide whether Finland's constitution should be amended to allow authorities extended powers in dealing with surveillance data and intelligence gathering relating to national security.

If the vote goes through it means that the law, which would bring security intelligence services under the direct monitoring of parliament and make it easier to delve into otherwise protected data, could be pushed through during the current government, HS writes.

The measure is supported by Centre Party MP Tapani Tölli and the SDP's Mika Kari, but the sense of urgency for the proposal to make a constitutional amendment is not shared by all.

"This is irregular. We should be able to clearly and undeniably show that an emergency amendment is justified. That has not happened here," said Left Alliance chair Li Andersson in the paper.

Another Left Alliance MP, Markus Mustajärvi called into question the timeliness of the hurried vote with respect to the ongoing investigation in the Turku archipelago.

"The people in the money-laundering case had been watched for years. Is it a coincidence that this operation occurred during a push for this new bill?" Mustajärvi said.

Tech found in Turku probe

Tabloid Iltalehti reports that new evidence in the Turku archipelago money-laundering investigation has been uncovered, raising more questions about the case.

The basement of the main building in the Airiston Helmi company's island complex was home to a communications centre equipped with computer gear, according to information procured by IL. The complexity of the devices, the paper says, points to uses other than tourism and real estate, services which the company allegedly offered before becoming the target of a major money laundering and tax evasion investigation.

Chief investigator in the case, police detective Tomi Taskila says he cannot confirm details about the devices found, but he told IL that "electronic equipment in a network" had indeed been uncovered.

"I can't comment on the technology. There have also been rumours of underground structures but no caves have been found," Taskila said.

Police also confirm that data storage devices were found in the basement. IL says these and other evidence is being studied by the National Bureau of Investigation, the Finnish Security Intelligence Service as well as Defence Forces specialists.

Guards in school, director upset

In a different case that has caused social media uproar recently, Tampere regional education director Kristiina Järvelä condemned a tweet posted by Finns Party MP and vice chair Laura Huhtasaari on Sunday, daily Aamulehti reports.

The tweet featured a photograph of a secondary school poster project that was put together by teens studying activism and political commentary. The poster represented President Sauli Niinistö and Greens MP Pekka Haavisto on one side of a photo of a boatful of migrants, with the text "Suomeen" (to Finland), which indicates that those politicians were seen in the project to be pro-immigration. On the other side of the photograph in the poster were photos featuring Finns Party chair Jussi Halla-aho and Huhtasaari under the text "kuoleen" (death), suggesting the viewpoint that anti-immigration politics cause deaths.

Aamulehti reports on the newest in the story, writing that a guard had to be placed at the school due to the large number of threats sent to the school following the tweet.

Director Järvelä strongly criticised Huhtasaari.

"Provoking and polarising are part of the lives of 15-year-old children. If youths were not outspoken and did not question the actions of adults, the future would be hopeless. I would not stand for any kind of pre-censorship that would allow students to only speak out in a certain way. Everyone working at the school considers the poster to be provocative and even a little amusing. It is the provoked person in this instance whose intentions are relevant here," Järvelä said.

Järvelä also called Huhtasaari's accusation that teachers brainwash students to be "unacceptable".

"I cannot condone using the work of minors as a hobbyhorse for political ambitions or for misrepresenting the context in question," Järvelä said.

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