Finnish-Russian boy in Turku can stay with parents
Case prompted media outcry in Russia and surfaced in ministerial discussions
The case of the seven-year-old son of a Finnish-Russian couple who was taken into foster care in Turku, sparking something of an international incident earlier this month, was apparently resolved on Friday.
According to the child's mother, the boy can stay with his parents.
The boy's mother reported on Friday that the parents had signed an agreement with Turku child welfare authorities to the effect that the child may remain with the family until June 18th.
During this three-month probationary period the family must attend ten visits with social services officials and the authorities will pay six visits to the family home.
The Turku child welfare authorities did not comment on the matter on Friday, as such cases are confidential.
The child of a Finnish father and Russian mother was hurriedly taken into foster care by local child welfare authorities in February, and had spent more than a month in a municipal family centre.
After going to school for the first time in a long time on Monday of last week, he escaped to his parents' home.
According to the parents, the reason given for the decision to place the child in foster care was that it was suspected the mother had hit the boy.
The whole incident generated a considerable head of steam in the Russian media, and was even discussed during a scheduled meeting in Moscow last week between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Finnish colleague Alexander Stubb (National Coalition Party).
Russia's children's affairs ombudsman Pavel Astahov visited Turku last week, and declared he had reached an accord with Riitta Liuksa, the director of social services for the City of Turku.
Astahov noted that the child welfare officials had initially made the wrong decision and that they had not visited the family before placing the child in foster care.
The Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE's news service reported on Friday that Astahov had commented that Finland should have Russian-speaking social workers on staff, since there is a sizeable Russian minority living permanently in Finland these days.
Cases of custody in mixed marriages have caused friction between Finland and Russia earlier, most noticeably in the case of Anton Salonen last year (see linked articles from 2009).
In this latest example, the parents have been interviewed frequently in the Russian media, where the case has been portrayed as an example of anti-Russian bias prevailing in Finland.
At the same time, the confidentiality rules that tie the hands of the social welfare officials have meant that no public statements on the other side of the question have been forthcoming.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Foster care dispute in Turku goes international (17.3.2010)
Foreign ministers Stubb and Lavrov discuss visa-free travel between EU and Russia (10.3.2010)
Something had to be done, says diplomat who brought abducted boy back to Finland (22.5.2009)
Russian mother of abducted Anton Salonen astonished at her treatment in Finland (19.8.2009)
Child abduction case prompts ministerial-level altercation between Finland and Russia (18.5.2009)