Diplomatic Spat Over Boy Taken To Finland
Published: May 19, 2009 (Issue # 1475)
Finland’s Foreign Affairs Ministry officially confirmed on Friday that five-year-old Anton Salonen, the son of Finnish citizen Paavo Salonen and his Russian ex-wife Rimma Salonen, was currently in Finland.
It also confirmed that an employee of the General Consulate of Finland in St. Petersburg helped the father to take the boy out of Russia.
The incident occurred in early May, when the boy’s father took him out of Russia against the will of Anton’s mother with the help of the Finnish diplomatic employee, causing serious tensions between the upper diplomatic services of the two neighboring countries last week.
Russian officials said that the father’s actions were illegal, while the Finnish diplomats said that it was Anton’s mother who had initially taken the child illegally out of Finland.
“The Foreign Affairs Ministry of Finland confirms that the Finnish child, who was illegally brought to Russia in March of 2008, and his guardian are currently in Finland,” read a report on the web site of the Finnish Consulate in St. Petersburg.
The ministry received information about the return of a boy with the Russian name Anton and his father to Finland on May 9, according to the report. They crossed the Russian-Finnish state border in a private transport vehicle belonging to a representative of the General Consulate of Finland in St. Petersburg. The consulate employee was acting on his own initiative because he didn’t see any other way of solving the drawn-out, complicated situation, it said.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry of Finland received confirmation of the participation of the consulate employee on May 10. According to the report, the ministry believes that the motive for his action was the interests of the child and the situation of his guardian.
The employee is also currently in Finland, and since “there are no pre-existing conditions” for him to continue his work in St. Petersburg, he is not coming back, the report said.
The General Consulate of Finland in St. Petersburg also confirmed on Friday that Anton and his father had received help from the consulate for two weeks before they left for Finland.
“We let them live in a small apartment that belonged to the consulate, and dine at the consulate’s cafeteria,” said Olli Perheentupa, Consul General of Finland in St. Petersburg, in a telephone interview with The St. Petersburg Times.Pages:  [2 ]