Finland Steps up Against Hate Speech and Propaganda

Due to its close proximity to Finland, St. Petersburg’s most important local news output, Fontanka.ru, has a special section devoted to news from Finland. A top story here reports how Finnish authorities are looking to open a criminal investigation into Johan Bäckman – in Finland a famous pro-Kremlin activist who is very often quoted as an international expert by pro-Kremlin Russian media – and his Russian associates.

The case investigated by Finnish police is tied to allegations of libel and harassment targeting Finnish journalist Jessikka Aro. Aro’s reporting about pro-Kremlin internet trolls has been nominated for the prestigious Bonnier journalism award; she has, however, also herself become a systematic target of accusations from Bäckman and his team – and this on top of the harassment from the internet trolls she has been writing about. Most recently, Aro has been accused of having a history as a drug dealer.

In addition to the Bäckman story, Fontanka reports that a group of editors-in-chief of leading Finnish media this week signed a manifesto calling for countering disinformation, propaganda and the spread of aggression and lies in traditional and social media. The story is covered in English by Finland’s public service broadcaster YLE, as well as in its Russian language output.

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