An illustrative of the interior of a train car distributed by Suomen Lähijunat. Established in 2022, Suomen Lähijunat on Thursday revealed it has acquired 11 commuter trains for an undisclosed price from the state-owned railway company VR, marking its first step toward launching commuter and regional services in 2025. The trains will be modernised thoroughly before the launch of services, said CEO Antero Alku. (Handout – Suomen Lähijunat)

SUOMEN LÄHIJUNAT on Thursday said it has taken ownership of 11 commuter trains previously owned and operated by the state-owned railway company, VR, making it the first private company to own and operate passenger rail services in Finland.

The company was established last year in order to deliver regular rail services to two million Finns.

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Chairpersons Antti Lindtman of the Social Democrats (facing the camera) and Petteri Orpo of the National Coalition attended a plenary session in parliament in Helsinki on 16 November 2023. A recent opinion poll shows a jump in support for the National Coalition and a drop for the Social Democrats, with the former consequently re-claiming the status of the most popular political party in Finland. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

THE NATIONAL COALITION has re-asserted itself as the most popular political party in Finland, indicates the most recent opinion poll commissioned by YLE.

Popular support for the ruling right-wing party has jumped by 2.4 percentage points to 22.6 per cent over the past month, giving the party a 0.3-point advantage over the largest opposition party, the Social Democrats. Support for the Social Democrats fell by 1.2 points to 22.3 per cent.

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Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen (PS) attended a plenary session in the parliament on 24 November 2023. Rantanen on Wednesday clarified the statement she made on YLE A-studio on Tuesday, admitting that she made a blunder in talking about the number of undocumented migrants in Russia. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

MINISTER of the Interior Mari Rantanen (PS) has admitted to making a mistake in estimating that there are 10 million undocumented migrants in Russia.

“That was purely a blunder and a mistake by the minister. I meant to say that Russia has around seven million foreigners of whom an estimated one to two million are in the country illegally,” she clarified in an interview with YLE on Wednesday.

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Itis shopping center, Helsinki. Photo: Itis

Itis Shopping Center in Helsinki is gearing up for a community-focused celebration to mark the start of the Christmas season this coming weekend. Embracing the spirit of local engagement, this year's festivities feature an array of activities aimed at encouraging visitors to connect with their local community.

Central to the event is the transformation of the shopping center's main square into a winter wonderland with its very own ice-skating rink.

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Black Friday balloons at LEHTIKUVA

Recent data from Nordea's card payments indicate a more conservative spending pattern by consumers during the early winter sales season, including Black Friday, compared to the previous year. While online shopping continued to grow, overall expenditure during this discount period was notably lower, suggesting a quieter upcoming holiday season.

According to Nordea’s latest data analysis, the extended Black Friday week, now popularly known as Black Week, saw a decrease in overall spending compared to last year.

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Starting January 1, 2024, the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (HSL) will increase its inspection fee for fare evasion in public transportation to 100 euros, up from the current 80 euros. This change, approved by the Ministry of Transport and Communications on Wednesday, November 29, is seen as a proportionate response to the rise in ticket prices and aims to effectively combat revenue losses from fare dodging.

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Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen (PS) reacted at a government news conference about restrictions to traffic across the eastern border in Helsinki on Tuesday, 28 November 2023. Rantanen told YLE that the decision to temporarily close all border-crossing points on the border is based on an official assessment about the possibility that Russia expands its hybrid campaign against Finland. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

MINISTER of the Interior Mari Rantanen (PS) revealed on YLE A-studio on Tuesday that the government decision to close the entire eastern border for two weeks is founded on an official assessment about the possibility that Russia could expand its hybrid campaign against Finland.

“We’ve been informed by authorities that the potential threat is pretty great,” she remarked.

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Central Library Oodi is turning five years old. Photo: Kuvatoimisto Kuvio

Oodi Central Library, Helsinki’s celebrated public library, is set to commemorate its fifth anniversary on December 5th, 2023. Since its opening on the eve of Finnish Independence Day in 2018, Oodi has not only become the city’s most frequented library but also a major cultural and literary hub, attracting nearly 10 million visitors to date.

Gifted to the nation on the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence, Oodi's grand opening saw an overwhelming attendance of 55,000 visitors.

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At the sales booths' demonstrations, you can closely watch glass blowing and learn about the craftsmanship. Photo: Dorit Salutskij

The much-awaited Tuomaan Market, a cornerstone of Helsinki's Christmas season, is set to begin this Friday, promising a diverse array of programs and offerings to enhance the festive spirit. Located in the historic Senate Square, the market will feature nearly 100 product sellers and over 20 café and restaurant operators, ensuring a continually refreshing variety of items throughout the market season.

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Prime Minister Petteri Orpo reacted at a news conference in Helsinki on Tuesday, 28 November 2023. Orpo announced the government has decided to close all border-crossing points on the border between Finland and Russia from Thursday, 30 November, until 13 December. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

THE GOVERNMENT of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) has announced its decision to close all border-crossing points on the border between Finland and Russia as of Thursday, 30 November.

The decision means that asylum applications can be submitted only at ports and airports but also that no kind of passenger traffic will be allowed at the border-crossing points, Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen (PS) reminded at a press conference on Tuesday.

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Finnish Red Cross worker at the Raja-Jooseppi international border crossing station in Inari, northern Finland, on November 25, 2023. Raja-Jooseppi in the far north of Finnish Lapland is the only crossing point open on the country's eastern border. Finland has closed seven checkpoints in response to Russian officials allowing increasing numbers of undocumented asylum seekers to pass through to the Finnish side of the border. LEHTIKUVA

The Finnish Red Cross has announced the conclusion of its assistance operations at the Raja-Jooseppi border station on November 30, 2023. However, the organization remains committed to supporting the basic needs of people arriving at Finland's eastern border in future extraordinary situations, as part of its core readiness for various emergencies.

Volunteers from the Red Cross’s Lapland district have been active at the Raja-Jooseppi station until the end date.

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Mother and an infant. Photo: Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters

A recent survey by the Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters (Ensi- ja turvakotien liitto) has shed light on the significant challenges facing Finnish families with infants, highlighting a concerning gap in the support available to them. Over half of the respondents in the "How are you doing?" online survey reported difficulty in accessing the help they need, despite experiencing a range of issues from loneliness and mental health challenges to coping with the demands of parenthood.

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Posti logistic service. Photo: Posti

Posti, Finland's main postal service, reported handling nearly 1.4 million parcels during the Black Friday week, marking the onset of the e-commerce Christmas season. Black Friday, which fell on November 24, saw many stores launch sales campaigns the week prior, significantly boosting parcel deliveries.

Kaj Kulp, Posti’s Vice President, noted that the Christmas season is traditionally the busiest time for them, with Black Friday notably increasing parcel volumes.

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Blocks of flats in Tampere on 16 October 2023. Tampere was the most resilient house market in Finland in October, seeing the prices of old dwellings in housing companies drop by only five per cent year-on-year, reveal preliminary data from Statistics Finland. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

THE PRICES of old dwellings in housing companies continued to decline in Finland in October.

Statistics Finland on Wednesday unveiled preliminary data revealing that the year-on-year drop in prices stood at 7.8 per cent in the largest cities and 4.1 per cent in other parts of the country, adding up to a nationwide average of 6.5 per cent.

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Screenshot of the 'Alusta' platform home page.

The Finnish National Gallery has stepped into the future of digital content sharing and creation with the launch of Alusta, a pioneering platform that leverages blockchain technology. Alusta is designed to be a dynamic space where culture intersects with cutting-edge technology, fostering an inclusive community of creators, learners, and enthusiasts.

As part of the Next Generation EU initiative funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture, Alusta aims to explore the vast potential of blockchain technology.

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President Sauli Niinistö delivered the opening speech at the signing ceremony of the joint declaration concluding the military accession process to NATO membership, hosted by the President of the Republic at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on June 12, 2023. LEHTIKUVA

Recent findings from the Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA's Value and Attitude Survey reveal a strong and consistent positive sentiment among Finns towards NATO membership, with EU support also reaching unprecedented levels. The survey, conducted among 2,045 Finns aged 18-79 (excluding Åland), between September 15 and 27, 2023, indicates a significant alignment in national opinion on these critical international alliances.

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