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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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Wednesday, Oct. 22

English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.

Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.

Thursday, Oct. 23

AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.

Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.

Friday, Oct. 24

SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.

Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).

Saturday, Oct. 25

AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at

Sunday, Oct. 26

Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.

Monday, Oct. 27

Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).

Tuesday, Oct. 28

The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.

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