Finnbay Site Cleared of Suspected Russian Influence
The founder of the Finnbay news portal website, Onur Yalcintas, met with a official from Finland's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday to clarify what the country's concerned public broadcaster termed online "diatribes" against the ministry.
The Finnbay website had raised suspicions in Finland and abroad since publishing several questionable articles about the country’s relationship with Russia.
Yalcintas, along with the publisher of a Russian-language publication, Novosti Helsinki, Irina Tabakova, met the Finnish Foreign Ministry's communications chief Jouni Mölsä. Mölsä said the ministry now understands that Finnbay and Novosti Helsinki share their content, Yle News reported.
Since 2011, the Finnish foreign ministry has co-operated with Novosti Helsinki, distributing the publication in Finnish consulates and embassies in Russia.
Novosti Helsinki has admitted receiving funding from the Russian Foreign Ministry, but Mölsä told Yle the Finnish Foreign Ministry had not at this time uncovered anything that would make them re-evaluate their cooperative effort with the publication.
In Finland, the website Finnbay is known for subscription-based English-language reporting about the country. Its site reported Sunday that Finland would continue its cooperation with Russia regardless of the views of the European Union and the United States. Following the publication of the news item, Finland’s Ambassador to Russia, Hannu Himanen, tweeted that the story was false.
"Please beware: your link leads to a fake site. The story is complete nonsense and grossly misrepresents Finland's position," he wrote to another journalist.
Finnbay reported to its global audience earlier this month that Finland was nervous over Russian military exercises, a story that got some international attention, including in the United States. An interview with Finnish Defense Forces publicist Eero Karhuvaara followed the same lines. Karhuvaara said his comments were used inaccurately.
Finland's security police have also investigated the site, and found no evidence of systematic Russian involvement in Finnbay’s news process. Neither the ministry nor the security police found evidence of anything other than poor-quality journalism, Yle said.