Why is the Finnish foreign ministry so jumpy about Finnbay’s coverage of the crisis in the Ukraine?

by , under Enrique Tessieri

One of the most surprising stories that has circulated today in Finland is that Finnbay, a publication which has occasionally used Migrant Tales as a source, is a fake site, according to a tweet by Hannu Himanen, Finland’s ambassador to Moscow.  Why is the foreign ministry so jumpy about what Finnbay publishes on the Ukraine crisis and its impact on Finland?

The answer to that question is pretty obvious. If you consider that large US media corporations like NBC are using Finnbay as a source then the matter takes a totally different dimension.

Who is Finnbay? From the few talks I’ve had over the phone in the past with the editor, it appears to be a publication that covers Finland and which is trying to become profitable. Thanks to all the publicity that Finnbay got on Sunday, that may be now possible.

Having reported on Finnish-Soviet affairs for publications like the Financial Times and others during the 1980s and early 1990s, the reaction of the foreign ministry to what Finnbay reported sends deja vu chills up my spine. Back then, the foreign ministry kept a close watch on what foreign journalists wrote about Finnish-Soviet relations.

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Read full statement here.

Aleksanteri Institute head Markku Kivinen is quoted as saying on YLE in English that Finnbay maybe two things if one looks at the stories it publishes on Russia.  “Either it is fishing for news and visibility or then it’s pure propaganda,” he was quoted as saying.  “This kind of news is being traded globally because at this point Russian military actions are in the spotlight,”

The Aleksanteri Institute functions as a national centre of research, study and expertise pertaining to Russia and Eastern Europe.

So is Finnbay guilty of publishing propaganda as Kivinen claims? Shouldn’t large media companies like NBC know which sources are reliable and those that aren’t?

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Finland was recently awarded by the World Press Freedom Index as the top country for press freedom. Does a country that respects press freedom single out and attack a publication because it disagrees with what it reports?

It would be good for all parties concerned that the foreign ministry gets to the bottom of the matter as soon as possible.

  1. ohdake

    You could start from here: http://www.iltasanomat.fi/kotimaa/art-1288674425273.html

    i) Law regarding the freedom of speech in mass media requires that any and every net publication has to report the name of the editor-in-chief. Finnbay does not – which is already a direct violation against the law.

    ii) Finnbay reportedly resides at Esplanadi 35 (00100 Helsinki). Problem is that such an address does not actually exists.

    iii) According to EU registry Finnbay is a company working on mass media with head office at Helsinki. Problem is that Finnish Kaupparekistery – into which every company (foreign and domestic) that operate in Finland need to register – does not have any mention of Finnbay.

    iv) There is no mention of the head person or the person who is legally responsible on what Finnbay does in the Finnish registry – where such mentions would need to be.

    v) Finnbay presents Russian language newspaper Novosti Helsinki as part of the company. Problem is that Irina Tabakova, XO of the company publishing Novosti Helsinki denies that and mentions that they are only “partners”.

    vi) Two persons who told they worked for Finnbay were reached on Sunday but neither was describe as to who headed the company or even who owned the company. Both suggested using company’s E-mail & phone number to contact it. No replies to the calls or e-mails however came.

    vii) Finnbay reported that it makes less than 8 000 e a year. Finnbay however sells the access right ot its site at 4.99 e per month or 52 e per year. Additionally it sells adverts to its site and reports publishing a newspaper both in Russia and in Finland with circulation of 15 000.

    viii) Finnbay reported starting legal procedures against Hannu Himanen the Finnish ambassador to Moscow. Himanen had called Finnbay a fake site and that particular news as nonsense.

    ix) Finnbay reports being a representative of Italy’s leading news organization ANSA in Finland. ANSA however reports that there are no agreements existing between the two and that Finnbay does not in any way represent ANSA.

    x) Head of Finnish Defense Force’s public relations told that his interview had been used by Finnbay in a way to provide extremely distorted view of what he had said.

    Judging from the above there are plenty of reasons why Finnbay is called ‘fishy’.

  2. elmeri

    Ok, so why haven’t you checked, before defending them, did they really give false information or not?

    In fact they did.

    They misinterpret Sauli Niinistö’s statement:

    from Finnbay:
    “On 26 March, President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, commented that Finland could always find a way to re-interpret laws to bypass sanctions or bans against Russia.”

    No, he didn’t say that:

    http://yle.fi/uutiset/presidentti_niinisto_aikoo_jatkossakin_tavata_venajan_johtoa/7152433

    He said, HE will be meeting Vladimir Putin in the future ( and only if it benefits Finland.)

    (And the date is wrong.)

    And in fact Alexander Stubb canceled a meeting with Russians as you can read here:

    http://paavovayrynen.puheenvuoro.uusisuomi.fi/164702-alexander-stubb-on-pahasti-suomettunut

    YOU write there, am I right? That would also explain, why it uses this site as a source. There’s nothing valuable here, only second hand information from finnish newspapers, which you have occasionally misread and misinterpreted and when you give some new “information”, you don’t give any background, where you have received it, you don’t give any arguments, it’s just speculation, basically made up.

    Fake site defending a fake site.

    “Finland was recently awarded by the World Press Freedom Index”

    So? Is the site down or inaccessible. NO. Then shut up.

    News and news sites are not and should not be protected from criticism.

    Foreign ministry jumpy? Give me a break. It’s their job to correct wrong facts.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      elmeri, I’m just surprised by the reaction of the Finnish ambassador by singling out Finnbay as he did. Aleksanderi Institute and YLE do the same thing.

      All papers are open to criticism but that’s not the point. I used to write a lot about Finnish-Soviet relations during the end of the cold war and remember very well the way the foreign ministry blacklisted journalists who would question Finnish-Soviet relations. Even debating in Finland EU membership of joining the Council of Europe was a no-no.

      Probably this is a bad comparison and I’m not defending anyone but do you think it’s ok for the government to remain silent whenever a PS MP makes a racist statement?

  3. elmeri

    To Enrique Tessieri:

    just surprised? No, you are clearly making a claim by insinuating. There’s a big difference. That’s the style you like to write.

    I am actually starting to think, that Finland should actually be MORE concerned, more involved in what kind of “news” are spreading around, and take actions. We are too closed now. These “news”, the ones you spread here included, can hurt Finland in many ways, can hurt the business. When you think about a foreigner, who is planning to come to Finland for work, and googles to this site and reads you ridicilous claims, well, he might think to himself: “Not going there, the PS is ruling the Finland like Nazis in Germany.”

    And what about the suspicion you spread about our police, and I am not just talking about the scarf-thing here, but also those posts, where you help spread rumours about our police being racist, and your “insinuations”, and “wanderings”. You don’t have a single evidence to support your claims, you still do it. Think about the damage you are doing to those immigrants already here. If they can’t trust the police then… And the same goes to your claims about our social workers, who are “keeping immigrants in check by keeping them unemployed.” – that is the stupidest thing I’ve heard for awhile.

    I don’t know what kind of devious game you are playing here, but, I repeat myself, it certainly is disgusting.

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