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Finland assumes “defiantly unconstructive” position in talks with Russia

October 01, 2012, 20:39 UTC+3

Their representatives refused to meet with Russian diplomats over the incident, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday, October 1

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MOSCOW, October 1 (Itar-Tass) —— Finland is acting “defiantly unconstructively” in the incident with Russian citizen Anastasia Zavgorodnyaya, whose four children have been taken away by Finnish social services.

Their representatives refused to meet with Russian diplomats over the incident, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday, October 1.

“The Russian Foreign Ministry continues to watch closely the situation surrounding the taking away of four children from the family of Russian citizen Zavgorodnyaya, who is residing in Finland. Russian consular workers maintain constant contact with Zavgorodnyaya and providing assistance to her in order to solve the problem by law,” the ministry said.

“Unfortunately, the Finnish side is acting defiantly unconstructively. Social guardianship bodies refused to meet with Russian diplomats today. We insist that such a meeting take place as soon as possible,” the ministry said.

“The meeting did not take place today for technical reasons, but Russian diplomats continue to study the possibility of holding it in the next few days,” the spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in Helsinki, Dmitry Suvorov, told Itar-Tass earlier in the day.

He said the meeting might also involve Zavgorodnyaya, her lawyer and all interested sides.

“The Russian Embassy is working on the matter thoroughly and comprehensively and maintain constant contact with the woman,” Suvorov said.

At the same time, Anna Cantell-Forsbom, head of the Vantaa Family Service, which had ordered Zavgorodnyaya’s children to be taken away, told Finnish mass media that the social services had acted in accordance with law.

She stressed that such decisions were made every time when there were suspicions that a child’s wellbeing was in danger.

Cantell-Forsbom said this concerned all children irrespective of their citizenship, and it makes no difference whether a mother has dual citizenship or not.

Russian children’s ombudsman Pavel Astakhov was he would prepare an appeal to the Foreign Ministry, asking it to interfere in the incident with Zavgorodnyaya and her children in Finland.

The local social service took four children away from Zavgorodnyaya, who is living in the Finnish town of Vantaa. “At first, the elder girl (6 years old) and the twins (2-year old) were taken away following her teacher’s report. Yesterday, the newborn daughter (10 days old) was taken away. Their mother has not been allowed to communicate with the child or breastfeed her,” Astakhov’s press service said.

According to information obatined by Astakhov, the children were put in an orphanage and then immediately transferred to a foster family, following “the elder girl’s complaint that her dad had slapped her”.

“The situation is not easy. We keep in touch with Anastasia. The elder daughter has Russian citizenship. The Finnish system of child protection offers no alternative in family crises. The taking away of children is a dangerous juvenile conveyor. It is extremely dangerous for Russian families with children to remain hostage of Finnish social services,” Astakhov said.

This is not the first incident involving the seizure of children from mix Finnish- Russian families. “The tragedies of the Salonens, Rantalas and Zavgorodnayas are multiplying in Finland due to very aggressive and uncivilized actions of Finnish social services. This can hardly be called a civilised treatment. Russia always offers cooperation and mutual assistance to the Finnish authorities in protecting children’s rights. In reply we always get a rejection of agreements and negotiations. We must find a way to convince the Finnish authorities of the need to conduct a dialogue with Russia on the protection of children and sign a bilateral agreement. If Finland refused to begin negotiations, it should be designated as a country dangerous for foreign /Russian/ families with children,” Astakhov said.

He intends to prepare a special report on the position of Russian children in Finland and submit it to the president.

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