Dual citizenship hotly debated in Finland
2017-02-15 11:35:00 -
World News
Double citizenship is being hotly debated in Finland as of late. The media took interest when it turned out that our armed forces were wary about trusting people who were citizens of both Finland and Russia, and preferred not to assign to them duties associated with a high degree of secrecy.

Of course this led to the air becoming heavy with allegations of racism, and you could hardly expect anything else when a man such as Jussi Niinistö is the Minister of Defence.

Although Niinistö shares his family name with the chair of the Finnish Greens as well as with the president of Finland, it seems he isn’t closely related to any of them. He is a member of the True Finns party, the party of demagogues and hate-mongers, and similar to the leading faction of the party, he has been active in the extreme right scene for at least two decades, longer than he has been a member of the party.

It is important to acknowledge that Niinistö is more sympathetic to the old rightist radicalism tradition in Finland. Back in the day, right-wing radicals stressed the importance of armed service, and were most resentful of conscientious objectors.

Since then, the emphasis of right-wing radicalism has changed much in this country: conscription still exists, but now even many rightist radicals evade it, and their ideology is much more akin to the international racism of the Donald Trumps of this world, rather than any Finnish nationalism worth is name; they tend even to be Putin-friendly. You could say that Niinistö is the ‘last of the Mohicans’ among the right-wing radicals of this country.

Jussi Niinistö has no diplomatic skills to boast of, being a right-wing extremist. If he had, he would have been able to make the story less scandal-worthy by making it clear to the media that double citizenship was just one possible reason to be wary.

As it is official policy in Russia to treat such dual citizens as basically Russian citizens who must stay loyal to Russia in any conflict, it is obvious that the armed forces must ask themselves whether Russian secret services can apply pressure on such a citizen. 

It is another story that spies have always had their ways to influence military men and other people of high responsibility in undue ways; we all have already heard all the juicy gossip about what Russians are supposed to know about Donald Trump’s sexual quirks.

When Harri Ohra-aho, the level-headed and sensible major general in charge of military intelligence in the Finnish armed forces, came to be interviewed by the media, he did his damnedest to explain the different aspects of his question – basically what the minister should have done to start with. At that time, though, the public discussion of this matter had gone its own way long ago. The left wingers were accusing the army of being racist, as their ideological tradition demanded, and the right wing radicals started to badmouth double citizens of Somalia and Finland, which was completely irrelevant, as the discussion was specifically about the activities of Russian secret services and about Russian policies towards double citizens.

Panu Höglund is a Finn who writes in Irish.
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