Anton Salonen (Russian: Антон Салонен, born 3 October 2003) is a child with Russian-Finnish dual citizenship involved in an international child custody dispute between his parents. The Finnish-born child was first abducted by his Estonian Russian mother in 2008 and taken to Russia. In turn the boy was abducted by his father in 2009 and smuggled back to Finland with the help of Finnish diplomats stationed at the Finnish consulate in Saint Petersburg. The incident has sparked a diplomatic row between Finland and Russia. The Finnish diplomat who helped to abduct the child was dismissed from the Finnish Consulate and Russia has declared him persona non grata. From a previous marriage of his mother, Anton has an older, 19 year-old brother, whom she left in Finland.
Anton's Finnish father and Russian Estonian mother met in Tallinn, Estonia in 1994 and married in 1997. The pair filed for legal divorce in 2002, which came into effect on January 13, 2003, but they continued to live together until 2005. Anton was born out of wedlock on October 3, 2003. At birth Anton was legally entitled to Russian citizenship, but the citizenship was never registered. He was registered as a Finnish citizen after the Finnish father's paternity had been established. His mother gained Finnish citizenship via naturalisation after the birth. After the divorce the parents had joint custody.
Abduction by mother to Russia
Anton's mother left Finland with Anton without the consent of the father on March 5, 2008. The Russian Embassy in Finland assisted the mother with the Russian visa application. The signature of the father is presumed to have been forged on the application.
The 65 year old father blames a religious organization near the Russian Orthodox Church in Finland for the abduction, calling the Memorial Society of Saint Seraphim of Sarov (Finnish: Serafim Sarovilaisen Muistoyhdistys) a sect. The lower court in Tampere ordered that the mother be detained on suspicion of child abduction. The order is only effective inside the European Union. Russia is not a signatory of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The court also gave sole custody of the child to the father. In Russia Anton was granted Russian citizenship based on information provided by the mother. According to Uusi Suomi this sort of citizenship is normally granted in months, not in days.
After locating the child and mother in Balakhna near Nizhny Novgorod the father initiated legal proceedings in Russia to regain custody and revoke the Russian citizenship. On November 20, 2008, the Balakhna City Court revoked Anton's Russian citizenship because his mother had presented false information for registration of citizenship. On 17 March 2009, the judicial board on civil cases of the Nizhny Novgorod regional court upheld the decision. After the decision, the father came to Russia to take Anton back to Finland.
Abduction by father
Russian online newspaper Grani.ru claimed that in April 2009 Anton was forcibly taken from his mother by his father outside her home on Ryazanova Street. The press service of Russia's Investigation Committee alleges that on April 12, 2009, the father, acting in conspiracy with persons unknown, attacked the mother and retrieved Anton. After allegedly being prevented from leaving Russia, the father and son took refuge at a vacant apartment of the Finnish Consulate-General in Saint Petersburg.
The Russian authorities allegedly ignored the earlier Russian court decision and Anton's Russian citizenship was expeditiously re-instated on May 7. One day later, on May 8, Anton was smuggled to Finland in the closed trunk of a diplomatic car by the legal consul at the Saint Petersburg consulate, Simo Pietiläinen.
The story was revealed on May 14 by the Finnish scandal paper 7 päivää causing a diplomatic incident. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov called his Finnish counterpart Alexander Stubb to protest and to demand an explanation. This was followed by a formal complaint. The Russian Foreign Ministry accused Finland of a blatant violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which states that diplomats should strictly observe the laws of the host country. The formal complaint was followed by a formal diplomatic note on May 20. Diplomat Pietiläinen, who helped take Anton out of Russia, was dismissed from the Finnish Consulate in St. Petersburg after the incident. Russia has declared Pietiläinen persona non grata.
The developments in St. Petersburg were closely followed by the Finnish government, including President Tarja Halonen, who condemned the behaviour of Simo Pietiläinen The actions of the Finnish diplomat involved were defended by Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb, whilst Tarja Halonen has condemned them. President Halonen, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen and foreign minister Stubb all denied having prior knowledge of the smuggling plan or the involvement of Finnish diplomats in it.
The incident has been widely covered in Finnish and Russian media in what some commentators have described as a media war. The Russian media have speculated thet the incident will have a negative effect on Finland–Russia relations. The case has also been compared to that of Eliza André.
The Investigation Committee of the Russian Prosecutor’s office has launched criminal proceedings against the father on suspicion of "pre-meditated kidnapping of a person by an organized group" under article 126 of the Russian Criminal Code.
Trial of mother in Finland
Anton's mother returned to Finland on 1 August 2009. She was arrested at the airport in the Tampere. A Finnish court considered the case of Anton's mother, and released her pending trial. However she was given a travel ban for the next 60 days. Through the Russian media, Johan Bäckman claimed that a Finnish police officer promised not to arrest Anton's mother, and furthermore the mother was allegedly arrested in Estonia's capital Tallinn. Bäckman was presented as one of the aides or lawyers of Rimma Salonen, while the trial lawyer is Heikki Lampela in Finland and Dmitry Glazov in Russia. Finnish media have reported some claims as a matter of inquiry.
The incident has been top television news in Russia. The main villains have been Anton's Finnish father and the Finnish diplomat Simo Pietiläinen. Johan Bäckman has had a central role as commentator about the incident in Russia and Finland. His comments and speculation have been published as such, without checkup, in many Russian media, such as Ria Novosti. Later Bäckman apologized his comments about the incident, but he has later recanted and is again arranging demonstrations against Paavo Salonen.
The Russian foreign ministry has made negative comments, and implied the negative effect of the incident to mutual relations between Russia and Finland.
According to Finnish expert on Russia Ilmari Susiluoto, the case of Anton is part of the Kremlin public relations campaign. The Finns have too positive an image in Russia, and this does not fit the Kremlin's idea of the "hostile outside world".
Rimma Salonen was given a one to five year suspended sentence for kidnapping and child abduction on 13 October 2009 in käräjäoikeus (lower court). She also had to pay 20,000 euros for emotional distress to her son and almost 4,800 euros to Paavo Salonen. The next year, hovioikeus (the Finnish appeals court) upheld Salonen's suspended prison sentence. However, the court did lower the damages awarded Anton Salonen to 10,000 euros. The court also ordered her to pay 7,500 euros in legal fees for Anton and Paavo Salonen.
In May 2010, Russian Child Rights Ombudsman Pavel Astakhov accused the Finnish authorities of denying Anton the right to speak Russian. Astakhov also referred to statements of Johan Bäckman that Finnish authorities had also banned Anton from praying, being baptized, or wearing crosses. A Russian newspaper reported these claims and referred Anton's mother and Bäckman to the Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee.
In March 2011, Rimma Salonen announced she is a candidate for the 2011 Finnish parliamentary election for the Workers Party of Finland. She also represented the organization of Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee. Salonen got 16 votes.
In April 2012 Rimma Salonen appealed to the Russian people and called for help because, according to her, "Western authorities are stealing talented and unique Russian children to supplant Western children who are just robots and sex dolls." 
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- Helsingin Sanomat: Johan Bäckman: Poliisi ja Antonin isä tekivät ansan Rimma Saloselle
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- YLE: Rimma Salonen Loses Appeal
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- Safka blogi: Jussi Parviainen, Johan Bäckman, Juha Molari, Rimma Salonen ovat SAFKAn eduskuntavaaliehdokkaat!
- Electoral district of Helsinki Official results of Finnish Justice Ministry
- HCCH - The Russian Federation becomes the 86th Contracting State to the Hague Child Abduction Convention
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- Пятилетний мальчик может поссорить Москву и Хельсинки
- СКП РФ возбудил дело против финна, похитившего Антона Салонена
- Спор родителей Антона Салонена нанесет ущерб российско-финляндским отношениям, считает глава МИД Финляндии
- Выкрасть ребенка финскому отцу помог вице-консул страны в Петербурге!
- "Похищенного" ребенка никто не похищал?
- Стало известно имя финского дипломата, вывезшего в багажнике русского мальчика