The MV-lehti case should be made into an important watershed against hate speech

by , under All categories, Enrique Tessieri

Former Islamophobic and pro-Putin MV-lehti editor Ilja Janitskin, who was sentenced in October to 22 months in prison on 16 criminal convictions, is hoping to reserve charges against him, according to Yle News.

Janitskin, who was MV-lehti editor between 2014-2018, denies responsibility for the numerous defamation and ethnic agitation cases brought against him.

Writes Yle News: “Some 90 criminal complaints related to the sites were filed in connection with the original case, including aggravated defamation [ordered to pay 136,000 euros in damages] and ethnic agitation, as well as copyright infringement, breach of confidentiality, illicit gambling and illicit fundraising.”

New charges were brought against Janitskin. One of these is from former Social Democrat student association Sonk chairperson, Hanna Huumonen, who was viciously attacked by social media lynch mobs for campaigning successfully against advertisers in 2016 to stop placing ads in MV-lehti.

Watch the interview (in Finnish) here.

“It became serious when I got personal messages, SMS messages, phone calls,” said Huumonen. “My phone was rendered useless [from the many calls and messages].”

She said in another interview that she could not use her phone even to call 112 because it was constantly flooded with calls and messages.

While Google was the source of the ads, some of these in the racist online publication were from Nokian renkaat, Volvo, Markantalo, and Stockmann, according to Journalisti.

While it is a very positive matter that publications like MV-lehti are brought to justice and forced to pay for their crimes, one rightly may ask why it took the police and the authorities such a long time.

The publication of a recent study about hate speech tells us how online publications like MV-lehti and their followers harass and threaten politicians, but the question that arises is if the police and authorities are doing enough to challenge hate speech.

According to Green League MP Iris Suomela, of the hundreds of thousands of rape cases in Finland, 50,000 are reported annually to Victim Support Finland (RIKU). Of these, the police record about 1,200 sexual assault cases, of which around 200 get to a court.

Just like a sexual harassment case will most likely never see the light of a court, is it the same situation for hate speech?

According to the justice ministry, ethnic agitation cases that were taken to court in 2018 numbered a mere 31, up 138.5% from 13 the previous year.

In light of the ongoing MV-lehti case and the worrying rise of hate speech in our society, the police and the authorities should do much more to ensure that people and minorities don’t get harassed by fanatics and closet extremists.

They should not use MV-lehti as a case and treat other hate speech cases with kid gloves because they lack the resources.

Finland must take a much tougher stand against hate speech and all forms of racism.