Brave Finland Stands up to Russia

Paul Goble reports:

Four leading Finnish non-governmental organizations have called on visiting President Dmitry Medvedev to live up to his promises to protect human rights and civic freedoms and to end the violence against journalists and ethnic minorities in the Russian Federation that are creating a gulf between Moscow and Europe.

The appeal, signed by the leaders of the Kiila Social Union, the Finno-Russian Civic Forum, the Finnish Section of Amnesty International, and the Finnish PEN Center, says that its members “had hoped for the development in Russia of a society which shares European values like human rights and civic freedoms.”

But given recent developments in various sectors of Russian life, it continues, the signatories “are deeply concerned by the state of the observation of human rights in Russia,” all the more so because Medvedev, as in his interview with Novaya Gazeta, offered himself as a defender of these rights. “Are you seriously prepared for a change in the law on non-governmental organizations,” the appeal’s authors ask. Are you genuinely attached to the rule of law and the defense of human rights? And with regard to these questions, the Finnish NGOs challenge the Russian president, “will we see actions and not just words?”

“Over the past 15 years,” the appeal notes, “more than 150 journalists have been killed. And attacks against them and other supporters of civil society “must be stopped, and the guilty brought to justice,” regardless of whether the victims have attracted the attention of the international community or involve less well-known people.

The appeal also expresses the concerns of these groups about the status of national minorities in the Russian Federation. “The multi-cultural tradition is the wealth of Russia,” it says, adding that “we hope for the decisive interference of the government leadership of Russian in the area of racist crimes.” It continues with an expression of concern about the status of Finno-Ugric peoples in particular, noting that “the open oppression” of one of these groups “has been continuing in the Mari El Republic since 2001,” when then-president Vladimir Putin installed his own man and called for the imposition of a power vertical there.

And the appeal calls for a full investigation of “the military crimes and violation of human rights which took place during the Chechen wars,” for the support of the Chechen people in reestablishing not only the economy of their republic but also democracy and human rights.” Justice requires, it says, “the scrupulous identification of those who violated” these rights.
But perhaps the most provocative part of the appeal is the following. “We are concerned,” the Finnish NGOs say, “that among the deputies of the State Duma of the Russian Federation are people who have been charged with murder and are wanted on international warrants” but against whom Moscow has failed to take action.

The Finnish appeal calls on Moscow to obey the decisions of the European Human Rights Court, to ratify the protocol on that court, and to help build “effective horizontal cooperation” not just government to government but people to people as part of the European Union’s action plan for Russia.
So far during his two day visit to Helsinki, Medvedev has not commented on this declaration, and most Moscow media have ignored it. But at least two Russian websites have posted it, allowing Russians some access to this Finnish expression of concern about their problems.

26 responses to “Brave Finland Stands up to Russia

  1. yeah… but in Finland, what the public’s opinion about Russia is (bad) and what the state does (suck up) are two very different things. I’m growing increasingly worried that Halonen will fold like a house of cards on the Nord Stream issue, it certainly looks like it’s heading that way… They are stalling though. stalling is good, let the damn thing go bankrupt before it ever gets to being built! and if the Fins to fold, there’s always the Swedes – so far they seem slightly more solid.

  2. Unfortunately, you are right, er…

    Those who know Finnish history after 1944 are very well aware that Finnish politicians have a long history of sucking up to Russia. That policy used to be called Finlandization in the West (if you need to annoy a russophile Finn, talk about it). Actually, Finland is the only country in the former Soviet sphere of influnce where the very same people are active in politics as in the 70’s and 80’s. And most of them have a huge Soviet skeleton or two in their closet. Halonen, for example, was a vocal proponent of official recognition of the German Democratic Republic and opponent of the EEC-Finland treaty in the beginnig of the 70’s. And Finnish prime minister Vanhanen wrote passionately against the indepence of the Baltic states as late as in 1985!

    But all hope is not lost. According to a recent study, Finns are the second most russophobe people in Europe. Only Kosovars have a more realistic view of Russia.

  3. So, it’s not really “Brave Finland” standing up to Russia, but rather 4 Finnish NGOs. Wouldn’t the headline be deceitful then? Maybe it should be changed.


    Thanks for your kind invitation, we respectfully decline. By your “logic” it could not be correct unless 100% of the people in the country voted in plebescite to do so. You might have offered some support for these brave Finns, but instead you choose weird nitpicking. Maybe you’re part of the problem, too?

  4. So proud of Finns. Finally, someone has the guts to ask questions that really matter and demand answers. No stupid “pragmatic diplomacy” or asking for mercy on the poor russki citizens.

  5. Suomalainen, good points! I will always remember that defectors to Finland were dutifully returned to USSR; only Sweden (which doesn’t have land border) could give one freedom

    • I remember being informed, back in the far-off Brezhnev days, that Finland practised a rather neat little policy with regards to defectors. They would be told by the Finnish authorities (i.e.. the police) that Finland has an official agreement with the USSR to return defectors, that the would-be defector should therefore think twice about declaring such a wish, so why does he not go away and think again. …And by the way, there are no border controls between Finland and Sweden, which has no agreement with the USSR on returning defeectors, so please do not proceed to Sweden. Many took the hint.

      Perhaps this story is too good to be true, but I heard it several times in the right sort of circles (e.g. once from an anti-Soviet Finnish communist!).

  6. Also, just remembered that according to 2004 poll in Finland 62% of respondents had a “very negative” or “fairly negative” view of Russia while just nine percent of Finns say that they have a very positive or fairly positive attitude toward Russia.

    So, the real question is how come Finns continue to elect politicians that kiss Kremlin asses?

  7. Russian natural gas is mainly produced in Western Siberia, homeland of small finno-ugorian ethnicities – nenets, khanty and mansi peoples. Siberian natives gain nothing from oil and gas industries but adverse environmental effects. Oil and gas industries imperil the very existance of these small nations itself. Nord Stream pipeline contradicts both Estonian and Finnish national interests. Findland should not issue any construction permits to Nord Stream! Say NO to Nord Stream! Also Russian new federal law on education should not remain unnoticed: It leads to forceful assimilation of Russian national minorities!

  8. The North Stream pipeline is a a done deal.
    It will run completely through international waters and nobody will have a veto power over that.
    As for the Finns,better watch out what you are bragging,we didn`t forget your invasion in 1941,we will return Finland into the Russian empire and chase you Finnish gypsies back to the north pole where you came from.


    Well, that certainly proves what kind of country Russia is! We rest our case, and apologize to our more civilized readers for this barbarism, which we must let stand for obvious reasons.

  9. Actually dimwit, it will have to run through Finnish, Swedish, and Estonian waters which are pat of their economic zones.

    “The offshore pipeline is being ordered and will be operated by Nord Stream AG, a joint company owned by Gazprom (51% of shares), BASF and E.ON (both 20%), and N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie (9%).[24][38] It will run from Vyborg compressor station at Portovaya Bay along the bottom of the Baltic Sea to Greifswald in Germany. The length of the subsea pipeline is planned to be 1,220 kilometres (760 mi), of which 1.5 kilometres (0.8 nmi) in Russian inland, 121 nautical miles (224 km) in Russian territorial waters, 1.4 kilometres (0.8 nmi) in the Russian economic zone, 375 kilometres (202 nmi) in the Finnish economic zone, 506 kilometres (273 nmi) in the Swedish economic zone, 88 kilometres (48 nmi) in the Danish territorial waters, 49 kilometres (26 nmi) in the Danish economic zone, 31 kilometres (17 nmi) in the German economic zone, 50 kilometres (27 nmi) in German territorial waters and 0.5 kilometres (0.3 nmi) in German inland.[39]”
    They all have a veto.

    You talk big for a Russian coward, remember what the fins did to you when you zombie like morons invaded them in 1940.

    Your stupidity shows that Russians truly are inferior

  10. Economic zones are used for fishing rights nothing else.
    Russia has through Petersburg an acces to the open sea right to Germany .
    The pipeline project is a dine deal.Quit whining.

  11. Just signed the petition to stop Nordstream. Please, join me and let your friends know.

  12. Andrew, you just don’t understand! What you are linking to happens in present; therefore by (Russian) definition it can’t be news. All Russian news are in the future! For example, when Russian Bear that The North Stream pipeline is a a done deal – that’s news.

  13. Believe me guys ,the project will go through,the Germans wouldn`t have signed this if it weren`t feasable.
    And if not,well than we are going to build several LNG terminals.In this day and age you don`t need pipelines that badly…

  14. If Germans pressure the Finns a little bit they will stop very soon with their babbling believe me.
    Germany is a very important market for Nokia…

    • if Germany is such an important market for Nokia, then why did Nokia close two big plants and fire hundreds, if not thousands of people there? (that BEFORE the crisis)

  15. Well Bear shagger, the Finns, Swedes, and the Baltic states can ALL block it.
    By the way, your shoddy Russian industry is incapable of building the LPG infrastructure required without, you guessed it, western companies. The same goes for Nord Stream, South Stream, and the exploitation of any of your oil & gas reserves.
    And western companies are incresingly unwilling to invest in what is one of the most corrupt states in the world.

  16. @Andrew

    We beat you Americans in the space race so believe me: we are able to drill for oil and gas too.


    Actually, while Americans walked on the moon many times, Russians have never set foot there.

    And while you can drill for oil, you can’t sell it at a good price unless Americans are buying. Moreover, your oil will run out one day, either because there’s no more in the ground or because the world has moved on to more advanced forms of energy. Russia is rapidly becoming very much obsolete, but because you are cut off by your government from real information, you don’t even know it.

    Poor sap. We pity you.

  17. Just continue confonting us,believe me if you Jews continue you will be soon in a for a new Holocaust.Remember,there are 500 000 Jews left in Russia,everything could happen to them…

  18. @Andrew

    At least we have an industry not like you,your “industry” on which the GDP is based is consumer spending (80%).
    Now guess what will happen to you if you loose your reserve currency status…

    • What industry, go to Moscow, see what new cars people drive. Japanese, German, & US models.
      No country worth mentioning purchases items “Made In Russia”, all you are capable of producing is crap like Lada, MiG (all your MiG 29’s are now grounded due to design faults), the rubbish that passes for military equipment produced in Russia, which frequently gets returned by 3rd world purchasers due to “substandard production” and other quality issues.
      BTW, you really should stop threatening your own Jewish population.
      Views like yours only confirm that there is no difference between Nazi’s & Russians.

  19. “more than 150 journalists have been killed.”

    What do you expect from a country run
    by it’s own mafia…

    Only a mobster like Putin will poison it’s neighbors.

    The Borgias where always rated as nothing but mobster and so is Vlad the Impaler’s gang
    running Russian, a nation of slaves!

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