Russia's Children's Rights Commissioner Pavel Astakhov hit back at Finland over alleged violations of Russian families' rights in the country, RAPSI reports.
"The statement on the site of the Health Ministry of Finland: 'In Russia violence against children is recommended by the authorities, it is not a criminal offense' is insulting!," Astakhov tweeted.
Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported Finland had refused Russia's request that the two countries cooperate constructively in the case of Russian national Anastasia Zavgorodnyaya, who lives in Vantaa, Finland, and whose four children have been taken into custody by Finnish social services.
“Regretfully, Finland is not acting at all constructively in this matter. Its social service authorities refused to meet with Russian diplomats today. We are insisting on holding a meeting of this kind as soon as possible,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Finnish social services took away Zavgorodnyaya's four children from her on suspicion of child abuse, Russian media reported last Saturday. The children were taken into custody after her six-year-old daughter Veronica told her school teacher she had been beaten by her father.
Three weeks ago, Zavgorodnyaya's three children - Veronica, and her two-year-old twins - were sent to an children's home. Last Friday, Zavgorodnyaya's newborn son, who was only a week old, was taken away from her as well. Finnish social services have allowed her to see her newborn child once a month, but she is forbidden to feed him breast milk, according to a RIA Novosti report.
Several similar cases have arised in Finland after a new law came into effect there in mid-2008, stating that children should be taken from their families immediately, where suspicion of maltreament has occurred. other Russian-Finnish families such as the Rantalas, the Salonens and the Putknonens, for example, have also found themselves in similar circumstances.
Rimma Salonen's case was one of the first public scandals to emerge involving Russian-Finnish children.
After Salonen brought her son Anton back to Russia, he was again returned to Finland in the trunk of a diplomat's car three years ago by his father Paavo Salonen and diplomat Simo Pietilainen, who have escaped criminal liability in Finland. Rimma Salonen was deprived of her parental rights by a Finnish court and received a suspended sentence for abducting her son after her divorce from Paavo.
Astakhov spared no effort trying to help Salonen or her son, whose Russian citizenship has not been recognized by the Finnish authorities.
Paavo has taken Russia and Astakhov to the European Court of Human Rights in an effort to force them to stop commenting on Anton's case.
Anton is currently living in Finland with his 70-year old father, who is his sole guardian.