Saturday, December 30, 2006

Good, was it? Make 2007 a better one.

I have challenged some of you. Please tell me

- How was it, in 2006? (Locally, globally, whatever.)
- 2007: What do you think YOU should do better? Or, what should be done? (... to make this a better world. Whatever.)

Big questions, I know. But I am trying to scratch the surface here.

Before I start thinking of good deeds and promises, I list some major things of this year. (Soon to be last year.)

And before I list anything, I have to add that I think that politically, and judging the general atmosphere (in Finland, too) intellectually, and even environmentally, this year has been a bad one. Sorry to say.

Very negative stuff:

1) Unfair political systems. Lack of human rights.
- Murders of Politkovskaya and Litvinenko. Several wars; Darfur, Somalia, Chechnya, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine... to begin with.
- Saddam executed without a proper trial. Bad example. But I guess the war in Iraq has had very little to do with justice, and this equals to the both sides.
- Materazzi making Zidane crazy; the both of them ruing the final.

2) Environmental hazards. Global warming. Black "winter" in most of Finland. Total waste of energy, electricity, oil, and any kind of valuable global resources.

3) Poverty. Poor becoming poorer. Seems to be a trend.

But now the good things in 2006, and these are very private:

1) Miss Funnybunny and the rest of my loved ones. You never fail.

2) Professionally this has been the time of major changes, for the better. I have liked these changes a lot. (But as this is not a work diary I will end this discussion here.)

3) I have had time for the things I like during my leasure time: have been watching football (soccer) in Finland and in Germany, riding (horseback), travelled in Iceland (is was also business trip, though) and in Estonia (total freedom!). Let alone Prague.

4) Have got new friends. (At times I don't realise how this is even possible, at least in Helsinki: I feel I already know more or less of everybody, and the ones to become friends with me already are. But NOOOOO, there are so many wonderful new people to meet! And this year has been a success again.)

5) Hard times have connected people.


And now to the New Year. What to do better in 2007? IStori's heavy list:

1) Be good to yourself. Get enough sleep. Read good books. Avoid TV. Go out, walk and run. Eat well. Mostly organically produced and vegetarian. Those are far better for you and the environment, compaired to the meat and milk of greatly suffering animals and veggies with pesticides. If you are short of money, you do tend to eat much better and cheaper, too, if you make your own food instead of buing junk food. Listen to good music, like this kind of jazz. Best there has ever been.

2) Be good to others. This is a huge thing to do. I'll try to figure out what it means. But for me the first step is that day by day I try to spend more time with miss Funnybunny. (And, day by day she is getting older, cleverer and funnier!)

3) Demand good things. Speak publicly for human rights, equality, end of environmental destruction, or peace (and if you are a politician, do more then just speaking). Say no to idiotic stuff like wars, attacks, invasions. They are never for good. They are for cheaper oil, gas pipes or liberated drug business. Do not vote for idiots. Use your brain.

(Basically, what I am saying is that stop whining and kick ass.)

And finally, let me make your day and include here a Helsinki clip I dedicate to those of you who

a) live elsewhere, or are somewhere travelling, and to
b) all of us who miss snow.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pay attention: Trepashkin, Khodorkovsky and Koivunen. And, have GOOD food. Like meze.

It's been some time, and I know I have to give a Christmas update.

I will. And everything is fine. The only slightly negative detail is that Ms Funnybunny is having some weird and very visible rash on her face, and Mr HP and I think it is because of chocolate.

Or, too much of it.

Gee what a problem we have. Too much chocolate. Had I only known when I was a kid that, in the future I would have problems with too vast amounts of chocolate, I would have been the happiest girl in the world.

Actually, I think I am among the happiest!

But before my real Christmas update (COMING SOON!), please pay attention to these guys and their problems.

* Mikhail Trepashkin is the ex-KGB officer, currently a lawyer, but now in jail in Northern Russia, thanks to whom the world now knows it was the FSB (successor of KGB in Russia) who blew up the worker's homes in Moscow and St Pete. The bombings were told to be terrorist attack by the Chechens. Because of the scandal, resulting to the people's fear and anger, the Second Chechnyan war starter. What a game.

But Trepashkin is not well, he is suffering from bad health conditions in jail. According to the rumours, he might not survive the imprisonment. Several Finns have also sent an appeal the the EU leaders.

As is the case with

* Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the YUKOS CEO who is used as an example of an evil and ruthless oil oligarch in the "New Russia". Well. The guy certainly made big money out of the ex-Soviet state owned oil fields, no doubt, but yet; his trial was just showbusiness, the manuscript of which was put together by other oligarchs.

(If you hate my blunt anguage, just go on and use the brain of your own! I am cutting thing short here as I am not going to write huge essays about these two. There are many articles about these things in the net. Google, google, google.)

And things might soon get a lot worse.

Last but not least. Though, this is the easiest thing as she is not in prison ANY MORE:

* Kristiina Koivunen, a Finnish writer and journo was arrested in Turkey, and ASAP escorted by Turkish police to the airport, to the next plain back to Helsinki. Kristiina's crime? Beats me. Probably the same as usual in these cases: mentioning human rights, or lack of them, in South-Eastern Turkey, writing about the rich, lively and interesting Kurdish culture, inviting Kurdish friends of hers to Finland (and they usually tend to be either journalists or lawyers...)

Kristiina is looking forward to getting more information on her case, and the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs is helping her with it.

What a pity that there are problems like this with Turkey. I know some very nice Turkish men and women, and of the Turkish culture I adore the excellent food!!!!! I love especially the eggplant stuff called Imam Bayildi, "Imam Fainted". And baclava! Let alone all those lovely garlic-tasting meze...

We had meze today, miss Funnybunny and I. But the only thing she liked was... now you will guess... rice.

But I loved all of them! Goodbye the Finnish Christmas food, like ham and sweet potato casserole, not to mention creamy rice porridge! I'm done.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ligths out, now! Santa's little helpers need some rest.

Dear friends and fans of Miss Funnybunny

In the Photo Thursday of this week, or last, the theme is Story Without Words. So here is mine. (Better later than never.)

Guess where these were taken. The dinos are pretty cool, let alone the pig, eh?


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Great Unknown. Independence Day in Finland.

Look, there's a TANK outside!

On TV, the Finnish celebrities and politicians are being asked, every year on Dec 6, "what does the independence mean to you?"

Should I answer that, I'd say that given the current political situation on the other side of the Eastern border of our little but independent country, independence means duty to me.

We Finns have a duty to help to the oppressed. The ones to whom independence is yet a dream. We have to value peace, freedom of speech, and rule of law, and make a point in all international fora that others should value them too. (And I do not mean only Russia, but countries like Turkey or the USA, too.)

Independence in not just an achievement of wars fought in history. It is very much today, and it must be fought for again and again. Independence is a duty, and a tool.

If others can not speak up and fight for their rights, we have to.

Because we can.

When we Finns talk about "the Unknown", we are not necessarily interested in life after death or any other twilight zone mysteries. No, we discuss the book called "The Unknown Soldier", written by Väinö Linna, or the films based on the book, the best of which I am watching right know, directed by Edwin Laine.

It is a basic war story, but also like a thriller. The plot is simple: a bunch of guys, from various parts of Finland –– speaking in various funny dialects –– fight Russians, and die one by one.

But the atmosphere is so strong and the characters so well-built that I always admire its power and wisdom.

I would have missed the film, but luckily I read Sedis blog and was reminded, just before it started.

Imbi Paju was yesterday at Koko theater after Putin's Russia, the play. Imbi quoted Stalin, who used to say, "No people, no problem". How very practical indeed.

There was also Pirjo Honkasalo, who has directed a touching and many times awarded documentary The 3 Rooms of Melancholia. With these tough ladies, and a young male journalist VR, we discussed the mystery of Russia.


Miss Funnybunny and I were having halloumi cheese from Cyprus, bratwurst from Nürnberg (Nuremberg), Germany, and bad, tasteless Finnish potatoes for lunch. Cyprus was on our table because the Finnish Peace Keeping Forces were another theme of today.

No – dream on, there was halloumi because I like it.

And the bratwursts were because Odelius from Germany is in Finland now! Was good to see you, dear.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Tuomas. Russia. Maarit. And Love.

I am getting tired. So many strange things have happened this autumn. Maybe it is time for me to sit down, (inhale, exhale, meditate + more of the super boring stuff, like sip herbal tea and knit, and guess what, I already do the latter!!!!!).

Seriously, I must sum everything up and concentrate on one thing at a time, for a while.

Like Tuomas Rantanen will be doing. He, a good friend, co-worker, public figure, and highly appreciated politician will be out of the next parliamentary elections. Willingly NOT running. But instead has decided to spend more time with his family. Tuomas, that's great! (But who will get my vote now?)

There are really important things everybody always finds most important, like family, and friends. But of course.

But then, one needs to get some fulfillment from work, too, and no matter wether the job she is doing is higly cultivated outer-space-like-culturally-intellectual OR down-to-earthly-practical. (At least many of us, in rich European countries get to choose.)

For years, I have been lucky to be able to do things I find most fulfilling and important. I hope I will be able to go on in as good a situation as now, or even better. And, as Tuomas said in today's Helsingin Sanomat, he finds his work as Publishing Director of the Voima magazine worth a huge commitment. I am very happy about it.

I want to a) spend a lot of time with miss F, and that Mr HP does more so, too, and with ME, too, and b) learn Russian, and c) write a book for Miss F.

I addition to this, I do NOT want to stop having endless discussions on the current political problems in Eastern European politics. This, too, I want to do with friends, like AN and OK, and with the rest of the gang.

Then, our discussions will lead to something good. But that will be another story.


Maarit is the best singer in the world. She sang in the 40th anniversary concert of Love Records, in Tavastia, last week.

You should have been there, all of you. Mr Hp and his friend TM were there first, on Wednesday, and I went there with the bride-to-be, future Mrs. Oksanen, on Thursday.

Music is something I will never give up, never ever. But I never need to. We sing, play the piano (and a number of other instruments) with miss Funnnybunny, and we listen to good music. Very. Come Rain Or Come Shine.


Last year, at the annual crayfish party of the Book Guild, we had a bar contest: who is to draw the logo of Love Records CORRECTLY, by heart.

You just copy that now.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Best wishes from Praha / Prague. Crazy World. Good Bye, Juice Leskinen.

I just came back from a nice visit to Prague. One of the most interesting places in Europe.

At the same time in Finland there was

– EU summit in Helsinki, which was
– visited by Putin; and
– there was a demonstration reminding him of Anna Politkovskaya's brutal murder and demands to solve the crime and start respecting human rights‚ and
Juice Leskinen, one of the most favoured, loved and cited poets & songwriters in Finland, died.

And in London, Aleksandr Litvinenko, the ex-FSB agent died of radioactive Polonium poisoning.


Mr HP and I managed to visit one of the scariest places on earth, Museum of the Theresienstadt Ghetto. It is not just a museum, it is a big ghost town. Either there are new(er) inhabitants, or they are ghosts.

"This couldn't be happening any more, could it?", was what I was thinking when looking at children's drawings describing every day life at the concentration camp. (Only few of them survived. They were sent to Auschwitz.)

The world has become crazy, near us, too. Very, very strange things have happened this autumn: A friend murdered. A person gone missing, longed for and seached by a friend.

But happy things, too: new babies born, and there are some happy newlyweds around. And some, like SP, on the verge of final countdown. Sonja, this is for you! (And it's not "Final Countdown", I can assure you. It is the music we loved. Hahaa I still do...)

Glad to be back home. With miss Funnybunny.

Ei elämästä selviä hengissä.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

KGB. Jokes. Do not waste your time with bad books – Kafka again.

According to some TV news, a former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko has been delivered to hospital in London with acute poisoning. As I understood, he was investigating Anna Politkovskaya's murder. Privately? Don't know. I did not get good links to this story yet. So I put couple of KGB jokes instead. Enjoy:


A hotel. A room for four with four strangers. Three of them soon open a bottle of vodka and proceed to get acquainted, then drunk, then noisy, singing and telling political jokes. The fourth one desperately tries to get some sleep; finally, frustrated, he surreptitiously leaves the room, goes downstairs, and asks the lady concierge to bring tea to Room 67 in ten minutes. Then he returns and joins the party.

Five minutes later, he bends over an ashtray and says with utter nonchalance: "Comrade Major, some tea to Room 67, please." In a few minutes, there's a knock at the door, and in comes the lady concierge with a tea tray. The room falls silent; the party dies a sudden death, and the joker finally gets to sleep.

The next morning he wakes up alone in the room. Surprised, he runs downstairs and asks the concierge where his neighbors had gone. "Oh, the KGB has arrested them!" she answers. "B-but... but what about me?" asks the guy in terror. "Oh, well, they decided to let you go. You made Comrade Major laugh a lot with your tea joke."


The KGB, the GIGN and the CIA are all trying to prove that they are the best at catching criminals. The Secretary General of the UN decides to give them a test. He releases a rabbit into a forest and each of them has to catch it. The CIA goes in. They place animal informants throughout the forest. They question all plant and mineral witnesses. After three months of extensive investigations they conclude that rabbits do not exist. The GIGN goes in. After two weeks with no leads they burn the forest, killing everything in it, including the rabbit, and make no apologies. The rabbit had it coming.
The KGB goes in. They come out two hours later with a badly beaten bear. The bear is yelling: "Okay! Okay! I'm a rabbit! I'm a rabbit!"


This weekend has been good.

* Leena had an excellent birthday party at Kulosaaren Kasino. What a lovely place. Mr. HP and I have to start frequenting it. And boy, didn't we dance! Yes, we did! A lot! Mr HP has a new nickname now, "Fred A".

* Miss Funnybunny and I went to Heidi's, too. Our visit was brief, but it was good to see good guys. Some of them were there a month ago eating Greek salad.

* I had a good time with Miss Funnybunny all weekend. She´s great. She sings all the time, now her favourite is "Happy Birthday". She keeps telling me – tone of her voice requiring respect for a mature person – that she is not a baby any more. She says she is a big girl. Well, that's right, two years and a half is much more than baby ages, measured in months.

* Mr HP and I are getting ready for our visit to Prague, taking place next week: We have been reading travel guides - the best one being in Finnish, published by Mondo. Best wishes to Antti Helin!

So, a Kafka quote is needed. Do not waste your time, that is what he says. The following reminded me of the time-saving tips I wrote last summer. (But I refuse to link them here. Waste your time and find them in my archives.)

"Altogether, I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us. If the book does not shake us awake like a blow to the skull, why bother reading it in the first place? So that it can make us happy, as you put it? Good God, we'd be just as happy if we had no books at all; books that make us happy we could, in a pinch, also write ourselves. What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us. That is what I believe.”
– Franz Kafka to Oskar Pollak, January 27, 1904

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Show must go on. Anna Politkovskaya's work, too.

More birthdays this week! What a wonderful world. Congrats, Leena, for your mega birthday, and to Heidi and Jussi, too! Your card is

Winter is closer. We have had a little snow in Helsinki, too, and in northern areas there are loads of it. Not melting before April.

But the sea around Helsinki is icy cold. Deadly dangerous, but looking harmlessly stiff and lazy, getting prepared to be buried under the ice.


The Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE has been proud to send the following piece of information:

"Tickets for international Eurovision Song Contest on sale before Christmas

Tickets for the international Eurovision Song Contest to be held in Helsinki next May will be on sale by mid-December. Tickets will be on sale for the international semi-final (May 10) and final (May 12) and for the dress and final rehearsals. All in all there will be eight possible audience events. The programme for the dress and final rehearsals will be the same as for the semi-final and final, apart from the voting of course. YLE has invited 12 artists to compete for the honour of representing Finland in the Eurovision Song Contest to be held in Helsinki in 2007."

WHO cares about Eurovision Song Contest? Who? I just don't get that.

Or, maybe I do care. As a taxpayer I care just enough only to wish the money spent on the contest of Euro clowns would be put to anything more important (and, almost anything is more important). Like to small cultural societies and magazines – to those who are to lose governmental funding this year.

I have always been so happy about Finland being the last one. If the forum is as bad as the annual Eurotrash, there is absolutely no need to qualify!

But back to _really_ important things: Anna is still here. Her show must go on. There is a bunch of us who will help.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Happy Birthday! Kafka writing, no salvation.

This is for You, darling.

And I am trying to get better, recover. This flu makes me crazy. Have been at work, tough. As usual. Have written, edited, read. Half slept. Day or night. Must remember to:

"Hold fast to the diary from today on! Write regularly! Don’t surrender! Even if no salvation should come, I want to be worthy of it at every moment.

–– Franz Kafka, Diaries
February 25, 1912

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Flu. What the ... is Matrix?

Everybody, the whole Finland, has had a terrible cold, and now it is my turn. I think I am the last one to get sick. Everybody else have got well, totally recovered, and now they are having fun and partying, and practising extreme sports like skydiving, or horseback riding on ice, or snowboarding in half-pipe, or diving with white sharks, or at least having wild sex. Everybody except me who has to gather all her strength just to survive a normal day without falling asleep. (But unfortunately, I wasn't doing all those funny things all the time when the rest of the world was having this flu before me. Oh gee, I should have lived, much much more!) This flu has had a huge impact on my brain, too. I just can't think of anything clever. So why blog? Oh, just to spill around my stupidity and misery.

But I CAN SEE THE LIGHT: THIS made me laugh!

I must confess, so did the original movie, the plot was so incredibly weird: all for alien energy production!

Perhaps the Muppets' version is the original, and the Wachowski brothers stole the idea from the frog? Must be that way round.

Back to bed now. Luckily I have the newest
Rankin. That could make me stay awake for a while.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

In the Beginning Of a New Era and Camel Jumping

In the Beginning Of a New Era
is a wonderful piece, written by talented Terhi Kokkonen and composed by Kerkko Koskinen. None of the young – or older, if there are any – stars in the production team are gaining any money from this, but instead, they are to transfer the profit to Chechnya.

How to achive this altruistic goal, that is not the easiest of all the questions. It is on the same level as the biblical "how can a camel jump through the eye of a needle. But that's enough of the Bible for the rest of this year.

The banking systems of Chechya is either under a strict control of Moscow, or just collapsed. And to have someone transporting anything there over the borders, that is not actually easy either. Only few get visas that far. Permissions for visiting Chechnya must be asked from Kremlin. And surprising as it may seem, these guys are not know as very generous gentlemen.

But I will be telling you more about the Chechnya project later on. If this is really a New Era, things must be getting better and you will get happy updates. I will be personally involved, as many others. We are many now.

Voima, a Finnish magazine for thinking and active citizens, has the press release of this musical work of art in its pages also in Russian.

Otchen harasho.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Fair enough

Luckily the last book fair this year is over.

It was hectic, as usual, but it was nice, too. Let me list some of the best things, the order depending on my moods.

1. The guests. The writers. The ones the fans of whom many of us are.

2. The crowds. Hundreds of eager cusiomers. No, thousands of people who don't work in the business but to whom bookfair is fun. Celebration. Audiences clapping hands and cheering after good interviews.

3. Bookfair bath. A brilliant tradition the cleverest people on earth, editors, just started.

On Friday evening, when everybody else was summing up the recent experiences at bars around Helsinki, we – a group of nine women – were bathing at an impressing and posh sauna department in a big trade union headquarters near the fair.


In sauna there was +90 degrees Celcius, and the pool was nice, too, by a fireplace, and we lit candles around it... Envious? You should be!

4. Being busy so that I don't have time to worry about things that should be ready by day before yesterday. Lost deadlines are COMPLETELY LOST at the fairs. Too bad. Hah.

5. Last but not least, a bookfair bath at home. After the gates are closed. After the money has been counted, after stalls and booths are torn down and after the foreign guests have been driven to the airport.

After Miss Funnybunny has been put to bed. Cup of tea by the side of the tub. Must be rooibos or mate. Something to make me feel relaxed and refreshed.

Enough. Back to normal.

But not just yet, I have some lovely reading to do. Fair enough.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Helsinki Bookfair 26–29 Oct

Is there ever a bookfair in Tallinn? Or Tartu? In case there are any, I would love to go. Hello, Estonia, please send some invitations over here!

I will be both working and enjoying my leasure time at the Helsinki Bookfair from tomorrow until Sunday evening.

Miss Funnybunny will be at her grandmother's, which she is already looking forward to. But I know she will miss her father and me: she is so touching when she is on the phone. "MUMMY! she will yell. "I AM HERE! WITH GRANNY! WILL YOU COME HERE, TOO? I AM HERE. GRANNY IS HERE, TOO. I AM EATING OATMEAL. WILL YOU AND DADDY COME HERE NOW?"

Luckily, she will drop by, at the fair, and visit us. (wetkisses&hugsformummyanddad, wetkisses&hugsformummyanddad...)

See you at the fair!


Ps. Tässä aikatauluni Helsingin kirjamessuilla. Näihin juttuihin osallistun aika lailla:

* torstai 26.10.

klo - lava - kuka, keitä - mikä kirja

11 Aleksis Kivi

Pirkko Saisio, Jouni Tervo, Jukka Mallinen, Riikka Uosukainen, Heidi Hautala

Vaarallinen vapaus? – Anna Politkovskajan perintö
Sananvapaudesta, sensuurista ja poliittisesta korrektiudesta Venäjällä ja Suomessa keskustelevat kirjailija Pirkko Saisio, toimittaja Jouni Tervo, Suomen PEN:in puheenjohtaja Jukka Mallinen, toimittaja Riikka Uosukainen ja kansanedustaja Heidi Hautala. Tilaisuuden juontaa Marketta Mattila.

12 Katri Vala Pakkanen, Jukka Tinasotamiehen poika
12:30 Liken os. Pakkanen, Jukka Tinasotamiehen poika
14 Suomalainen kk Mylläri, Anu Adoptoitu
15 Otavan os. Mylläri, Anu Adoptoitu

* perjantai 27.10.

13.30 Soul Food Sankarimatkailijat: Neuvosto-Tallinna, Kaakkois-Turkki, Vilna, Varsova, Färsaaret jne

* lauantai 28.10.

11:30 Kirjakahvila Hari Kunzru, Andrei Nekrasov, Susie Nicklin
How much control should a government have over what we can say? Taking as a starting point the English PEN/Penguin collection of essays Free Expression is No Offence, this panel discussion will look at key issues around freedom of speech. Tuottaja: British Council.

13 Suomalainen kk Mäki, Reijo Hard Luck Cafe
17 Soul Food Haahtela, Joel Perhoskerääjä

* sunnuntai 29.10.

10:30 Kirjakahvila Köngäs, Heidi Hyväntekijä
14:20 Katri Vala Aylett, Steve (UK) Atomi (Atom)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

That Greek salad... Bullets. Winter coming.

Yesterday evening we had a good round table wondering how to make things better in Russia.

Russia. Our favourite hobby. Main topic. Top of the pops. Neverending story.

Luckily we had a Russian with us, for a change! AN is a film director, and used to know Anna P., too. What a pity we never met when Anna was around.

Our hostess, HH, is a Finnish parlamentarian, and very interested in Russian politics. PH is a senior politician, currently working for the UN (that abbreviation equals the huge organisation the Secratary-General of which is Kofi Annan. I was not referring to any other mysterious friend of mine!)

The center item on the table, Greek salad, was there because of our journalistic friends, TN and NF, are Greek freaks. (But I am just envious: how come is it possible that some get to be interested and have energy to dig into other cultures besides North-Eastern Europe?)

KM was there too. She is a cultural journalist. Loves Russian stuff, especially theater.

Actually, all of us, including miss Funnybunny and mr HP, used to be friends of Anna Politkovskaya and always hanging around when she was visiting us.

I was thinking about that when I listened to the new piece (Uuden ajan kynnyksellä, "In the Beginning Of a New Era") for memory of Anna (and for human rights), composed by Kerkko Koskinen, and lyrics by Terhi Kokkonen. They sing:

"The one telling the truth
in an elevator she gets a bullet in her forehead.
They don't know about you yet.
They don't know about me yet."

There are more of us. But hopefully the eagle with two heads will run out of bullets soon.


It was raining today. Winter is coming. But there was some magic in the air, look: outside the railway station it was all blue. (Play misty for me.)

I like the predictable fact that there will be snow soon. Aaahhh, winter... Playing in the snow with Miss Funnybunny. The smell of food in the owen. Mulled wine. Candles everywhere, all the time, all day. Not seeing the bellybuttons of every woman under 40. Winter IS good.

I like going to work in the morning when it's dark (sure, it is dark the whole day, but nonetheless...) and lighting a candle as the first thing. Even before my first sip of coffee.

And reading Doctor Zivago. I read it in every fourth winter, and soon it will be time time time.

No more Visas. Putin in Lahti. Greek salad.

There are more and more journalists in Finland who don't get visas the Russia any more. Once, when Anna Politkovskaya (Politkovskaja) was in Finland, there were about 5-6 journalists around a tabl, of the kind. (We were in restaurant Kappeli, having blinys and wine. Lovely evening, that was!)

A (late) human rights lawyer Mati Wuori, who was with us, said it is outrageous.

So, on Friday, we went to a small, strange town of Lahti, to meet Vladimir Vladimirovitch Putin. (See the previuous entry, from Thu 19 Oct.)

Lahti is located by a lake called Vesijärvi. In English, "Waterlake". Isn't that a wonderful example of the endless sources of imagination of our ancestors?

Back to the protest /vigil /demonstration. Nowadays the police are hysteric, and so are the Heads of State. You can not go anywhere near the actual meetings to protest.

BUT WE HAD ALREADY WON, in that sense that according to the news Mr. Putin had had to reply the sincere and perhaps, more than slighty uncomfortabe questions about the human rights situation in Russia. Both, our Prime Minister Mati vanhanen, as well as President Tarja Halonen had discussed with Putin. Ms Halonen had a lot a chance to talk, she went to the airport to get Putin to Lahti, and together they drove there and back. More than two hours together.

But, as all the sensible activists have concluded repeatedly, it is not the talks that count, but action. Something should change. Rule of law, at first.

* *** ***** *** *

But what on earth does Greek salad have to do with all this? Believe it or not, it has EVERYTHING to do with Putin, Politkovskaya, and politics, in these two countries, Finland and Russia.

But I will explain that later this evening, Miss Funnybunny just woke up and we are going out to the rain for a while.

To be continued...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Putin and Vanhanen in the Center of the Universe, Lahti.

Today Lahti is the Center of the Universe.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is coming to Finland, to a big EU meeting, in two hours. He will go to Lahti, Sibelius hall.

Quite a number of people are going there, like Mr. HP and Miss Funnybunny. Only 1 hour drive from here, 48 min by train.

We are there to say hi, and to demand the following. I just e-mailed this to Kremlin, too.


President of the Federation of Russia
Vladimir Vladimirovitch Putin

President of the European Council
Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen

October 20, 2006


Two weeks ago the highly respected and awarded journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered in the centre of Moscow. This brutal act of violence was yet another setback to freedom of speech, democracy and the respect for human rights in Russia.
In addition to the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, dozens of human rights activists are regularly faced by threats and acts of oppression. They are threatened by physical violence, by loss of job, by threats to their families, by politically motivated law suits and by shaming in the non-independent media.
Travel by individual activists abroad is prevented. Non-governmental organisations are increasingly facing official obstruction of their work and threats of non-registration under the new law. All the mentioned acts above are happening everyday somewhere in Russia.

The murder of Anna Politkovskaya should serve as a final opening of the eyes of those who have repeatedly denied that human rights are eroding in today's Russia. It should serve as a final opening of the eyes for us in the European Union to see what really is going on under the surface in Russia.

Anna Politkovskaya spoke loudly for the rights of those who did not have any and those who were losing their rights in the midst of the war, i.e. “fight against terrorism”, as the government has described it.
She spoke for the need for rule of law in her home country. In her last article she wrote:
"[In Chechnya and in Russia] prosecutors and judges are not acting on behalf of the law and they are not interested in punishing the guilty. Instead, they work to political order to make the Kremlin's nice anti-terrorist score sheet look good and cases are cooked up like blinys. ...
This is what a group of mothers of convicted young Chechens wrote to me: 'In essence, these correctional facilities (where terrorist suspects are held) have been turned into concentration camps for Chechen convicts. They are subjected to discrimination on an ethnic basis. The majority, or almost all of them, have been convicted on trumped-up evidence."

We appeal to you, President Vladimir Putin, that the Russian army and courts of law should respect the European Convention for Human Rights. The culture of impunity should not be allowed to live a day longer.
The Russia authorities should immediately intensify ongoing investigations and start new ones into the disappearances and deaths of Chechen civilians.
Independent observers should be allowed to visit prisons and refugee camps all over the territory of the Russian Federation to ensure that torture is not taking place.
Urgent measures need to be put in place to stop the intimidation and to guarantee the protection of human rights defenders working in Russia.
The full investigation into the murder of Anna Politkovskaya including finding out who possibly ordered the killing should be pursued vigorously and the perpetrators should be prosecuted and tried in a open and fair manner.

In 2004 Anna Politkovskaya was asked whether she believed it might take generations for her country to become truly free.
She answered: "I wouldn't ever want to say it would take generations. I want to be able to live the life of a human being, where every individual is respected, in my lifetime."

Unfortunately it is too late for her, but not too late for you, President Putin.

Prime Minister Vanhanen, we urge and encourage the European Union and especially the Finnish Government now holding the Presidency of the EU to raise these serious and urgent human rights concerns with the Russian Federation. The EU would be betraying its own core values if it failed now, when there is a momentum to take up these serious questions, to demand immediate action from the Russian government to uphold freedom of speech and to guarantee the protection of human rights defenders. This autumn you, as the President of the European Council, have several opportunities to directly address these problems with President Putin.
We therefore appeal to you that these issues be prominently on the agenda at these meetings, in particular and in depth, at the EU-Russia summit in Helsinki on the 24th of November.

Amnesty International
Finnish Section

Finnish Helsinki Committee
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights

Finnish Peace Committee

Finnish PEN