20 October 2012, 17:03

Activist Bäckman persecuted in Finland

Activist Bäckman persecuted in Finland

Finnish human rights activist Johan Bäckman who has been actively speaking out for the rights of Russian mothers residing in Finland, has fled the country together with his family.

In an exclusive interview with the VoR, Bäckman said that he and his supporters are seeing immense pressure from the authorities. The activist fears that he will have to seek asylum in some other country.

"I feel very uncomfortable. I keep seeing strangers and suspicious cars near my house. The media are doing everything to harm my reputation in Finland because I protect Russian mothers, while the government accuses me of being a spy. Finnish universities tell me that my services as a professor are no longer needed. The situation is very risky. I can even be assassinated."

Russia is extremely concerned with the situation and some experts claim that Finland went too far in persecuting undesirable individuals. Valery Borshchev from Russia’s Human Rights Council believes that Finland is now abusing human rights which it urged to protect.

"This aggression was triggered by a fallacy that Finnish MPs and the media are really protecting children’s rights. By take children away from their mothers, Finnish custody authorities violate their rights. Even jailed women have a right to see their children; this is stipulated in all European conventions. And Russian mothers were not even jailed. Such actions breach international rights and freedoms."

Recently, Bäckman took the side of Russia’s Anastasia Zavgorodnyaya, whose four children were taken away from her by Finnish social workers, while her youngest daughter was a toddler. All the four were placed to an orphanage. After Beckman’s interference and diplomatic requests Anastasia was allowed to stay with the daughter. (end)

Finland saw a number of similar situations after the adoption of the 2008 child welfare act which enables child protection services to work independently.

The law hit mixed Russian- Finish families – the Salonens, the Rantalas ad the Putkonens.

Bäckman was of a great help, says Irina Bergset, coordinator of the Mothers of Russia movement.

"In case of a conflict, Johan came to a family, filmed everything and then uploaded online. He spread no rumors or unverified information. I had every reason to trust him. He never got involved or took sides. His work was backed by evidence. Johan was a mediator between reporters, Russians and Finns. Our movement comprises mothers living in 22 countries and we have never reproached Finland but now Russian families are under threat and we’re not letting it go."

Johan Bäckman, associate professor of the University of Helsinki, is now accused of being pro-Russian activist and misrepresenting information about children conflicts which Finland believes made it loose its permanent membership in the UN.

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