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Suffer the little children...
...and possibly the grannies, too
By Ilkka Ahtiainen
As Turku has struggled in the past few weeks to hang on to its recent hard-won position in the Finnish media limelight, the Russian children's affairs ombudsman Pavel Astahov, a KGB-trained lawyer, visited the city ten days ago in order to offer the Finns some guidance on family policy matters.
Astahov flew in to find out why the Turku child welfare authorities had abruptly taken the child of a Finnish father and Russian mother into foster care in February.
Astahov said he would be willing to serve as a guarantor in the case, which had begun to build up a good head of steam in the Russian media.
"If it turns out that the family cannot take care of the child, I am ready to take him away from them myself", he declared.
At around the same time, there has been much discussion hereabouts over the removals from the family hearth of two somewhat older persons - namely a pair of grandmothers who have faced deportation from Finland.
One of the two to have received her marching orders (since suspended by the police in advance of an anticipated amendment to the Aliens' Act) was Irina Antonova.
Antonova is an 81-year-old Russian pensioner who is in frail health and almost bed-ridden.
Her Finnish son-in-law Ari Laitanen reported in a YLE current affairs discussion programme last Thursday as to why exactly his mother-in-law could not and should not be returned to Vyborg in Russia.
"The conditions in the City Hospital in Vyborg are quite shocking. There are rats scurrying about the floors, the level of hygiene is very low, there are no opportunities for washing oneself. it is all very primitive", said Laitanen.
This was Vyborg, a Russian city.
The question now is whether Mr. Astahov will - if the need arises - also come and take Irina Antonova back to safety in Russia.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 28.3.2010
ILKKA AHTIAINEN / Helsingin Sanomat