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A tradition of cultural cooperation with dictators
By Kaius Niemi
Ensto is not the only Finnish company to have wooed a dictator in hopes of getting lucrative contracts.
However, Ensto was embarrassed to be caught for its flattery of dictator Saparmurat "Turkmenbashi" Niyazov, because the company did not take into account the dictatorship’s vainglorious habit of publishing all positive contacts made toward the President.
There is something grotesque about calling the translation of Rukhnama an act of cultural cooperation. The obsessive teaching of the book in schools and educational institutions has led to a total collapse of the educational system.
In addition, schoolchildren have had to work 2.5-3 months out of every year in cotton fields - one third of the school year. Children as young as nine have had to take part in heavy field work.
The government of Turkmenistan has been accused of using child labour in a report of the Turkmenistan Helsinki Initiative.
Many Finnish companies still have secret information on how to make profitable deals with the administrations of, for instance, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein or Libya’s Muammar Gaddaffi.
Starckjohann once did its own act of "cultural cooperation" when it translated a book on Chemistry by Elena Ceausescu, wife of Romania’s communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. It goes without saying that "Dr." Elena Ceausescu’s expertise in chemistry was considered dubious to say the least.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 24.11.2004
KAIUS NIEMI / Helsingin Sanomat