Ilja Janitskin on trial
2018-07-01 14:27:14 -
Opinion
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Photo source: Mlang.Finn/Wikimedia

By Panu Höglund

Ilja Janitskin is a name that the people of Finland have heard a lot in the recent years – an ill-reputed name. 

Janitskin started his career as an ice hockey player, but since then life hasn’t been very kind to him. He had a stint as a security worker in Miami, but the job seems not to have suited him, and he left for Finland again, where he joined the Bandidos, a ‘one-percenter’ biker club. 

On a couple of occasions Janitskin was found guilty of aggravated assault, but it seems he didn’t receive a prison sentence, so he could leave Finland to settle down in Barcelona. It’s only after that he earned most of his ill repute, by going into ‘journalism’. But even before that, Janitskin had once tried his hand at publishing, together with another young man who isn’t so young anymore – a certain Jussi Ahde. 

Ahde is the son of Matti Ahde, an old and respectable Social Democrat politician, but he had obviously been adrift for a long time, as he was mostly known for his ‘cocaine video’. He started a pictorial magazine with Janitskin, but it folded after the first edition. Basically, it was just another rag about the lives of celebrities.

The magazine Janitskin founded in Spain was another story. It was an online magazine or portal publishing ‘news’ items. To start with, it used to take stuff from real newspapers and other mainstream media, suggesting at the same time that it was spreading information not found in normal media. Janitskin called his online magazine Mitä vittua?, a Finnish phrase that means ‘What the f***?’ Gradually the magazine went in for racism as editorial policy – the usual stories about strangers from Africa or the Middle East ”raping our girls”.

Another aspect of the kind of ‘journalism’ Ilja Janitskin practiced was inciting online lynch mobs to attack people who weren’t happy with the editorial policies of his magazine. This kind of intimidation went to such lengths that his victims reported him to police. In April, Finnish police confirmed that Janitskin was in the country and that he was going to stand trial. The accusations were a long list: copyright infringement, intimidation, and libel levelled by Mitä vittua? at several people.

One of the people who suffered most from his libel campaigns is a female journalist who I am only calling ‘J’. A couple of years ago she wrote a report for the Finnish national broadcaster YLE about how activists who are friendly to Vladimir Putin and Russian nationalism organise online attacks. The result was that Mitä vittua? organised a huge defamation campaign against her, which brought great media visibility to how racists and so-called ‘friends of Russia’ attack people who have an anti-racist or Russophobic profile.

Janitskin will likely be jailed for his exploits, but it seems that he has already done his time for the most part, while he was kept in pretrial detention. However, his process is a milestone in other ways: it has been shown to the people of Finland how intertwined Russian propaganda and organised racism are.

Panu Höglund is a Finn who writes in Irish.
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