Finnish lawmakers have expressed their puzzlement at a report compiled by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that essentially lists known human rights issues in member states of the European Union. The report, the lawmakers view, is a political instrument. Antti Kaikkonen (Centre) is surprised that a single country has taken it upon itself to compile such a report. “Russia is agitated by the fact that EU countries have interfered in the human rights situation in Russia,” he views.His fellow Member of the Parliament, Kimmo Sasi (NCP), is not as surprised. “Over the past two years, the attitude of Russia in the Council of Europe has changed. They have been displeased with all human rights reports concerning Russia,” reminds Sasi, who is a member of the council’s committee monitoring human rights in Russia.
“While human rights reports concerning Russia were previously drawn up in two years, the most recent report took five years to finalise.”
Following the Russo—Georgian war, Sasi says, Russia has been increasingly reluctant to co-operate and has behaved as a self-assured superpower. “They answer back to any criticism against them,” he says.
Altogether, Russia identifies issues in all of the 28 member states of the European Union.
Finland is reproached for the discrimination of ethnic minorities, prolonged court proceedings, domestic violence and incitement to racism. “[The report] calls attention to several issues that have been previously highlighted by human rights organisations. Finland must address these issues regardless of which country decides to list them,” stresses Maria Guzenina-Richardson (SDP), a member of Finland’s permanent representation to the Council of Europe.
According to the report, the Russian minority in Finland is regularly subjected to prejudice and discrimination. Some Russians have been denied service at banks due to money laundering suspicions associated with their ethnic background, the report highlights, citing a report released last year by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), a body of the Council of Europe.
In addition, the report refers to the national children’s rights watchdog Save the Children, according to which the children of immigrants in Finland face racism and xenophobia on a daily basis. “Degrading and aggressive remarks are yelled at children in schools and on the streets,” the report says.
Posted March 6, 2014 by Jaana Savolainen – HS, Aleksi Teivainen – HT, © HELSINGIN SANOMAT
Photo: Dimitry Serebryakov / AFP / Lehtikuva
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