The night frost has been considered a key part of the series of events in which the Soviet Union got a hold of Finland’s domestic political solutions. According to emeritus professor Kimmo Rentola, shortly before that, Finland packed up in fear of the Soviet Union deporting ten people, which is the opposite of Tuesday’s events.
Political the management decided on Tuesday to expel nine Russian spies from Finland and to tell the matter publicly. This is an exception in the historical continuum of Finnish foreign policy, says the professor emeritus of political history Kimmo Rentola from the University of Helsinki.
Over the past few years, Finland has announced several times that it is expelling Russian embassy personnel from the country, but there are differences in these situations compared to Tuesday.
The deportation to Tehtaankatu was also reported when Russian intelligence officers poisoned their spies for Britain and Russia Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal In Salisbury, Britain, in 2018. After a failed assassination attempt, Finland expelled one Russian who was in the country with diplomatic status.
Similarly, Finland publicly announced that it would deport two people who worked in the Russian embassy in the spring of 2022, when Russia had expanded its war of aggression in Ukraine.
However, those deportations took place at the same time as other EU countries, which was made known when the matter was communicated. Instead, on Wednesday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Ministry of Supply Pekka Haavisto (Vihr) stressed that Finland did not make Tuesday’s decision as part of any country group.
“We do not compare ourselves to other EU countries or NATO countries in this situation, but make independent decisions,” he said in an interview with STT.
In a rare outspoken way, it was also communicated on Tuesday that, according to Finland, the deportees have worked on intelligence missions and violated the Vienna Convention regulating diplomatic relations. So it wasn’t about the indiscriminate expulsion of diplomats, but the removal of Russian spies from the country.
The whole and also the communication therefore differed from the previous ones. So what should the decision be mirrored in the timeline of foreign policy history?
Kimmo Rentola according to that, a reasonable point to reflect on Tuesday’s events can be found in 1958, on the eve of the notorious night frosts. A little earlier in the same year, Rentola locates a significant event related to the deportation proceedings concerning the Finnish Soviet allies.
The traumatic night frost crisis arose in the fall of 1958 in a situation where the Finnish People’s Democratic Union, or Skdl, had received a quarter of the votes in the parliamentary elections, but was not accepted into the government. In this situation, the Soviet Union got angry at Finland and withdrew its ambassador from Helsinki in protest.
General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev declared that relations between Finland and the Soviet Union had drifted into the night frost.
Among other things, the president Urho Kekko a diplomat following closely Max Jakobson has considered that, after that event, Kekkonen tried to avoid a similar situation with the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union began to gain more and more influence from internal events in Finland.
The night frosts have therefore been considered one of the core events of Finnishness.
Relax opposes last Tuesday’s deportation decision to the spring before the night frosts.
According to Rentola, the security police had by then compiled material on the Soviet intelligence officers working in Helsinki, which would seem to point to the preparation of large-scale deportations.
There were ten names on the list, among which was also Viktor Vladimirov. He later became the head of the intelligence service KGB in Finland, but before that he had time to work, among other things, as the head of the KGB’s sabotage and assassination department in Russia.
Rentola says that the KGB was apparently tipped off during the nighttime crisis about the deportations, and Vladimirov attacked the head of the security police Dear Alhava against. In the end, no deportations were carried out.
However, since the early 1960s, the Finnish deportation model began to be developed step by step, Rentola says. So did the deportation practice become normal in Finland at that time?
“Finnish normal”, says Rentola.
He considers Finland’s procedure peculiar because no official decision on deportations was made. The matter was handled with a verbal notification, after which the deportees had to leave the country quietly.
“There was a lot of benefit to Finland from that. For example, there were usually no retaliatory deportations,” says Rentola.
Based on Foreign Minister Haavisto’s comments, Rentola interprets that the new transparency will not necessarily apply to every deportation in the future, but that consideration will be done on a case-by-case basis.
He also believes that Tuesday’s deportation decision and the publicity about it indicate that relations between Finland and Russia have weakened significantly since before. For example, Russia’s decision to freeze the bank accounts of Finnish embassies in Russia has created pressure to act, he interprets.
“There is a need on the Finnish side to do something and show that it can be done here too.”
Russian spies secrecy about deportations can also be approached legally. Has the Finnish harassment line been legal?
Professor of Public Law Tomi Voutilainen The University of Eastern Finland says that the Publicity Act, which regulates the activities of public authorities, gives exceptional opportunities in foreign relations to politically consider both the concealment of information and its disclosure. The decision to publish the deportation of Russian spies this time therefore still leaves the political leadership with the discretion to decide whether it wants to act this way in the future as well.
In an interview with STT, the editorial ministry’s Haavisto said that before the announcement, the chairman of the coalition that would form the government in Säätytalo had also been discussed Petteri Orpon with.
Voutilainen points out that the information about the deportations of the Russians could not have been kept very secret, at least at that stage, because Orpo, in his current position as a member of the government, has no access to the government’s secret information.
According to Voutilainen, during the government negotiations, there has been “mess and vells mixed up” with this issue, because the Ministry of Finance tried to keep documents secret from the public, but nevertheless prepared and delivered them at the same time to the government negotiations.
“Here, we wondered on what basis they have been submitted, when the question is not about the institutions of the parliament. It is about parliamentary groups, which according to the law are independent legal entities. They are associations of members of parliament”, says Voutilainen.
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