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Wednesday's papers: Russian PM's visit, bogs for sale and arson suspects caught

On Wednesday, Finland's papers discuss the visit of Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev, the church arson suspects and whether the sale of bog land can slow climate change.

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Image: Tina Lundan / Yle

Daily Keskisuomalainen reports that Prime Minister Juha Sipilä is likely to discuss the Syrian war, the Ukraine conflict and the security situation around the Baltic Sea with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, who visits Finland on Wednesday.

The meeting is particularly interesting for Russia, because Finland is currently preparing for its EU presidency starting next summer, Keskisuomalainen says. Russia hopes that during its six-month presidency, Finland will improve EU-Russian relations and advance co-operation. Traditionally, Finland has advocated for a continuing dialogue between the blocs while calling for a change in Russia's policy in Ukraine, according to the paper.

It is not yet known whether the prime ministers will discuss the large-scale police operation in the Turku archipelago this weekend, after which two men, one of them Russian, were detained on suspicion of money laundering and tax fraud. In any case, the Finnish media is likely to bring up Airiston Helmi case, which has raised questions about a possible security risk to Finland posed by Russian land ownership in strategically important areas, Keskisuomalainen says.

Traffic in Helsinki may be affected by Medvedev’s visit as the police will close off some roads during the day.

Bogs for sale

Would you buy five hectares of bog land for 4,000 euros even if you could not claim ownership to it, asks daily Helsingin Sanomat. Instead of peat, you will receive a clean conscience as that parcel of land will compensate for your lifetime carbon footprint, HS says.

The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC) will use the money to restore drained bogs which store huge amounts of carbon. This, in turn, will slow down the climate change and loss of ecological diversity.

Janne Kotiaho, a professor of ecology at Jyväskylä University, says ecological compensation should become an obligation to builders.

“It’s about the principle that the one who pollutes also pays,” Kotiaho says. Now society as a whole has to pay for environmental damages.

"If there is no way to prevent the destruction of habitats, compensating for the damage elsewhere is the second best option," he adds.

At the moment, the FANC's Carbon Bourse has 300 investors and 120,000 euros in funds. With the money, the FANC plans to restore a bog in Lestijärvi, Ostrobothnia.

The amount of investments vary from 50 to 4,000 euros. With 4,000 euros, an investor 'buys' five hectares of wetland, which is estimated to offset the carbon footprint of an average Finn.

However, companies cannot invest in the Carbon Bourse at the moment. In many countries, the concept of ecological compensation is used as a marketing trick by corporations, HS says.

Four suspected of church arson

In other news, tabloid Iltalehti reports that police in Eastern Finland have arrested four people suspected of arson that completely destroyed a 250-year-old church in Kiihtelysvaara on Sunday.

The authorities say they have reason to believe that the blaze that levelled the Kiihtelysvaara church was intentionally started. The case is being investigated as a case of aggravated property damage.

According to Iltalehti, police refuse to disclose any information about the suspects, and whether flammable liquids were found inside or outside the wooden church.

Police said they received tips from the public concerning possible suspects, which, combined with its own investigation, led to the arrests on Tuesday, Iltalehti reports.

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