Morning headlines: Monday 18th January 2021

News Now Finland morning news headlines and weather first, every weekday at 09:00.


PM calls for release of Russian opposition politician

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has joined other EU leaders in calling for the release of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny. Mr Navalny was detained by Russian authorities on Sunday when he arrived in Moscow on a flight from Berlin, where he had been recovering from a serious illness, brought on by apparent novichock chemical poisoning. Mr Navalny blames Vladimir Putin‘s regime for being behind the assassination attempt, and EU governments have repeatedly called for a proper investigation into the incident, which took place last autumn. “Russian opposition politician [Alexei Navalny] must be released without delay” Marin wrote on Twitter on Monday morning. “Also others arrested at his arrival should be freed. Russia should investigate Navalny’s poisoning, protect rights of opposition which belongs to any democracy.” On Sunday, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) also said he was following developments in Russia “with concern” regarding Alexi Navalny. “His poisoning and the threat to his life should be investigated in a proper manner” says Haavisto. 

Finland receiving lower vaccine doses today than planned 

Public health authorities are warning that this week’s deliver of Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccines, due on Monday, is lower than expected because the manufacturer is facing its own supply chain difficulties. Finland will receive 37,000 doses of the vaccine today, which is around 10,000 less than anticipated. Due to the chance some hospital districts will be receiving less than they had been told as well, with the reductions coming in hospitals which had put in the biggest vaccine orders. According to Pfizer, restructuring work at the manufacturing plant will reduce deliveries across the EU “for several weeks.” Meanwhile the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL says it’s monitoring the covid vaccine rollout carefully in case patients suffer any adverse reactions when they get the shot. By Friday there were 32 notices of bad reactions incluing pain at the injection site, muscle pain, nausea, a rash, tiredness, headaches and chills; but THL stresses these are commonly observed and expected side effects when getting a vaccine.

Sámi Council wants to see more cross-border “respect” during Covid crisis

The Sámi Council is calling on regional governments, including in Finland, to respect the rights of cross-border families and communities during the coronavirus crisis. The Council says that while many restrictions put in place can be considered appropriate, other measures are adversely impacting their communities which stretch across borders. “The measures the nation states have introduced have serious consequences for the fundamental and human rights of the Sámi, especially the freedom of assembly and movement, and children’s rights.” The Council says that while people living in border communities have been able to cross the borders for work reasons, it is not possible to cross from Finland into Norway, for example, to maintain family ties. “Closed borders during the Covid-19 pandemic have affected the interaction between the Sámi
people, communities, families, traditional livelihoods, business owners and employees. Sámi artists, artisans and other entrepreneurs have been put out of work as a result of strict travel restrictions across nation state borders […] border control during Covid-19 have also had a negative impact on traditional reindeer husbandry and border crossing reindeer herding work, especially on the Swedish-Finnish border” the Council says in a statement.

VR: Trains are running more punctually 

According to the Finnish state railway company VR some 96.6% of commuter trains, and 88.6% of long distance trains arrived at their destinations on time last year. That’s an improvement across the board compared with the year before – however VR cut many services during 2020 because of the coronavirus crisis, and saw a sharp drop in passenger numbers as well. Last year the most-punctual long distance service was between Helsinki and Oulu where more than 93% of trains ran on time.

Gallery: Discovering Finland’s urban wildlife

How well do you know your neighbours? No, not your human neighbours, but the other animals that share our cities, towns and villages with us. There is a surprising variety of wildlife in Finnish towns. From small rodents like voles to large mammals such as elk (moose), from small birds to birds of prey like owls and eagles. Some animals are even doing better in urban environments than in their traditional forest homes. However, apart from the small centres of the bigger cities, Finnish cities are quite green and open compared to many other cities around the world. Some animals dwell in urban environments all year long, others are seasonal visitors. For example, great grey owls live and nest in northern Finland but come down south when they can’t find enough food in their natural environment. Find out more in our new photo gallery from Espoo-based wildlife photographer Paul Stevens.

Monday morning weather

There’s relatively cloudy weather across the whole of Finland on Monday morning, and it stays that way for about 24 hours. There’s a few snow flurries in some places but the heavy snow we had last week is over for now, and the extreme cold temperatures are also a bit warmer now.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Monday morning 18th January 2021 / Credit: FMI