A member of the Finnish Defence Forces personnel is suspected of committing a criminal breach of his military service in his handling of a dual-national soldier. He was cleared of a discrimination charge, despite apparently instructing his subordinates via email to limit the activities of a conscript holding dual Finnish-Russian citizenship.

The conscript in question was responsible for special assignments, which granted him access to a register with personnel data, according to state prosecutor Jukka Rappe. 

The Defence Forces suspect began to wonder whether the dual citizenship status of the conscript perhaps posed a risk, as the information was so sensitive.

“So they started to investigate and take action, and I suspect that the conscript’s activities were eventually limited because of his dual citizenship status,” says Rappe.

Neither the Defence Forces nor the prosecutor general’s office would comment on the matter further. But Yle sources say the conscript in question was a citizen of both Finland and Russia. 

Last spring Yle broke a story that claimed the Defence Forces had begun to limit the military duties of its dual Finnish and Russian citizens. Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö then denied it and asked Yle to pull the story, accusing the public broadcaster of disseminating fake news.

The preliminary investigation was carried out by the National Bureau of Investigation and the Defence Command. It heard testimony from several people, including the conscript.

The initial charges included one count of breach of military service (palvelusrikos in Finnish) and another of discrimination, but the preliminary investigation found that no one – not even the conscript – was actually put in a discriminatory position because of their citizenship or ethnic origin.

The suspect is still expected to face charges for violating the military’s official code stating the terms of conditions of universal service, which calls for equal treatment in all circumstances.

“The Defence Forces’ own provisions banning discrimination are clearly more stringent than those found in Finland’s Criminal Code. For this reason, there is still reason to suspect that a breach of military service has occurred,” says state prosecutor Rappe.

The suspect denies the charges against him.

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