Row over Finnish-Russian citizens

Finnish media have reported in recent weeks on how applications of people with both Finnish and Russian citizenship for military and foreign service jobs have been repeatedly rejected. The reports have sparked a debate over whether this violates the principle of equal treatment for all. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä has stated that conflicts of loyalty must be avoided. The country's papers agree.

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Iltalehti (FI) /

A certain distrust is appropriate

It is perfectly acceptable to bar applicants with dual citizenship from security-relevant posts, Iltalehti argues:

“What we need now is clear legislative guidelines. It is not unacceptable to reserve certain positions in the army, the foreign ministry and elsewhere for people who only have Finnish citizenship. The same can be said for certain training programmes for recruits. Nevertheless, such restrictions must be transparent and have a sound legal basis, without any loopholes. And of course one must not assume - let alone assert - that people with dual citizenship are potential traitors. But there are tasks where conflicts of loyalty must be avoided from the outset. People who apply for these jobs can avoid such conflicts by renouncing their former citizenship.”

Pohjalainen (FI) /

Russia most definitely a threat

Dual citizenship most certainly can pose a risk for Finland, Pohjalainen fears:

“Times have changed. Finland cannot ignore the fact that for example all Russian citizens, even when they have dual citizenship, are obliged by Russian law to assist the Russian security authorities. ... The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) stated yesterday that dual citizenship could make Finland vulnerable to pressure from a foreign power. Now the core issues are on the table. Dual citizenship must be subjected to close scrutiny as regards internal security. There must be no mistaking the fact that Russia's information war, including its armies of trolls, have changed the security situation.”