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Diplomatic Spat Over Boy Taken To Finland

Published: May 19, 2009 (Issue # 1475)

Finlands 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 boys father took him out of Russia against the will of Antons 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 fathers actions were illegal, while the Finnish diplomats said that it was Antons 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 didnt 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 consulates cafeteria, said Olli Perheentupa, Consul General of Finland in St. Petersburg, in a telephone interview with The St. Petersburg Times.

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Thursday, Sept. 18

Get your nerd on at Boomfest, St. Petersburgs answer to the United States popular ComicCon. Starting today, this international festival of comics will take over venues throughout the city center and includes exhibitions of comics and illustrations, film screenings, competitions and the chance to meet the genres authors, artists and experts.

Friday, Sept. 19

SPIBAs newest addition to their Cultural Discoveries events is Handmade in Germany, an exhibition featuring unique handmade objects of a significantly higher quality than mass-produced items. The work of over 100 German manufacturers will be displayed during the event, which opens today in the Lutheran Church of Saint Peter and Paul on Nevsky Prospekt and runs through Sept. 28.

Saturday, Sept. 20

Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.

Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.

Sunday, Sept. 21

Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.

Monday, Sept. 22

Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.

Tuesday, Sept. 23

Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.

Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.

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