'Conspiracy theory': Finland government minister says foreign media 'spreading false claims'

FILE: Finland's Minister for Economic Affairs Wille Rydman, July 2023
FILE: Finland's Minister for Economic Affairs Wille Rydman, July 2023 Copyright Finnish Government / Lauri Heikkinen
By David Mac Dougall
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The newly-appointed minister for economic affairs says that certain researchers, experts and journalists are pushing an anti-government agenda onto foreign media outlets.


A Finnish government minister has claimed that foreign media is spreading "false claims" about the Nordic nation in an attempt to discredit the government, with critics branding him as a conspiracy theorist for the remarks.  

Newly-appointed Minister of Economic Affairs Wille Rydman, from the far-right Finns Party, first told public broadcaster Yle on Monday morning that certain people were "spreading false claims" about the government, and the Finnish media should be wary about the role of foreign media when it reports news about Finland. 

In a separate Yle television interview on Monday evening, Rydman said that international media outlets, including German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, were being given false claims by "various researchers and social media activists, including journalists." 

"This government has been branded with the most unsubstantiated and baseless claims," said Rydman, who got his job when the previous minister resigned after being exposed by Euronews and other media outlets for attending a 2019 event organised by neo-Nazis; and later controversially calling for mass abortions for African women to combat the climate crisis. 

The leader of the Finns Party, Deputy Prime Minister Riikka Purra, was also unmasked last week by media outlets as the author of racist and violent blog posts, for which she apologised. 

Afterwards, the leaders of the four parties which make up Finland's right-wing coalition government had to release a statement saying they were against racism.  

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo's office was quick to distance itself from Rydman's televised remarks, telling Euronews that "Minister Rydman’s statement represent his own thinking, not on behalf of the government." 

Minister Rydman and his press team were given the opportunity to comment for this article, but did not respond to requests. 

Reaction from Finland

There has been widespread criticism in Finland of Rydman's most recent comments.

Martin Scheinin, a professor of international law and human rights said that Rydman "appears to have presented a conspiracy theory," and called for him to "take responsibility" for his words. 

Green MP Atte Harjanne said that government ministers "have excelled in sowing conspiracy theories."

"The international media has quite understandably caught on to the extraordinary, miserable twists and turns of Finnish politics," Harjanne added. 

Meanwhile Johanna Vuorelma, a researcher at the University of Helsinki, wrote that there had been four years of "mayhem" during the Trump administration in the USA which included "attacks on free media, hostility towards experts, normalisation of conspiracy thinking, downplaying of racist speech, stalling of climate action."

"That era should serve as a warning to Finland," she added.

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