Anton incident

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Anton Salonen (Russian: Антон Салонен, born 3 October 2003)[1] is a child with Russian-Finnish dual citizenship involved in an international child custody dispute between his parents.[2][3] 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.[4] The incident has sparked a diplomatic row between Finland and Russia.[5][6][7] The Finnish diplomat who helped to abduct the child was dismissed from the Finnish Consulate and Russia has declared him persona non grata.[8] From a previous marriage of his mother, Anton has an older, 19 year-old brother, whom she left in Finland.[9]


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.[1][10] At birth Anton was legally entitled to Russian citizenship, but the citizenship was never registered.[1] 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.[11] After the divorce the parents had joint custody.

Abduction by mother to Russia[edit]

Anton's mother left Finland with Anton without the consent of the father on March 5, 2008.[1][12] The Russian Embassy in Finland assisted the mother with the Russian visa application.[13] The signature of the father is presumed to have been forged on the application.[14]

The 65 year old father blames a religious organization near the Russian Orthodox Church in Finland for the abduction,[15][16] calling the Memorial Society of Saint Seraphim of Sarov (Finnish: Serafim Sarovilaisen Muistoyhdistys)[17] 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.[18] 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.[18] 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.[13]

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.[7] 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.[1][19] After the decision, the father came to Russia to take Anton back to Finland.

Abduction by father[edit]

Russian online newspaper claimed that in April 2009 Anton was forcibly taken from his mother by his father outside her home on Ryazanova Street.[20] 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.[21] 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.[10] 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.

Diplomatic incident[edit]

The story was revealed on May 14 by the Finnish scandal paper 7 päivää[22] causing a diplomatic incident.[5][6] Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov called his Finnish counterpart Alexander Stubb to protest and to demand an explanation.[3][23][24][25] This was followed by a formal complaint.[5] 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.[25] The formal complaint was followed by a formal diplomatic note on May 20.[26] Diplomat Pietiläinen, who helped take Anton out of Russia, was dismissed from the Finnish Consulate in St. Petersburg after the incident.[8] Russia has declared Pietiläinen persona non grata.[8]

The developments in St. Petersburg were closely followed by the Finnish government, including President Tarja Halonen,[27] who condemned the behaviour of Simo Pietiläinen[8] The actions of the Finnish diplomat involved were defended by Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb,[28] whilst Tarja Halonen has condemned them.[8] President Halonen,[27] 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[29] in what some commentators have described as a media war.[30] 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.[24][31]

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.[3][31]

Trial of mother in Finland[edit]

Anton's mother returned to Finland on 1 August 2009. She was arrested at the airport in the Tampere.[9] 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.[32] 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.[9] Bäckman was presented as one of the aides or lawyers[9] of Rimma Salonen, while the trial lawyer is Heikki Lampela in Finland[33] and Dmitry Glazov in Russia.[citation needed] Finnish media have reported some claims as a matter of inquiry.[34]

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.[35][36][37] Later Bäckman apologized his comments about the incident,[38][39] but he has later recanted and is again arranging demonstrations against Paavo Salonen.[40]

The Russian foreign ministry has made negative comments, and implied the negative effect of the incident to mutual relations between Russia and Finland.[41]

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".[42]

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.[43] 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.[44]


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.[45] A Russian newspaper reported these claims and referred Anton's mother and Bäckman to the Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee.[46][47]

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.[48][49] Salonen got 16 votes.[50]

Russia joined the Hague Abduction Convention on October 1, 2011.[51]

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." [52]

In May 2013 Supreme Court of Finland decided not to give Rimma Salonen right to appeal for the ruling of Vaasa Hovrätt. This means Anton's father is his legal guardian as Vaasa Hovrätt ruled.[53]


  1. ^ a b c d e Vladimir Shishlin (22 May 2009). "Финский поворот" (in Russian). Interfax. 
  2. ^ "NOOTTIUHKA! - Anton pojan pitkä piina". Ilta-Sanomat (112): 2–3. 16 May 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c Irina Titova (May 19, 2009). "Diplomatic Spat Over Boy Taken To Finland". St. Petersburg Times 37 (1475): TOP STORIES. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  4. ^ Tapio Pessi (15 May 2009). "Konsulaatin työntekijä auttoi Anton-pojan salakuljetuksessa". Aamulehti. Archived from the original on 17 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-16. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b c "Russia lashes out at Finland over kidnapping" (video). Russia Today. 15 May 2009. Archived from the original on 16 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  6. ^ a b "Boy's fate sparks Russia-Finland dispute". eTaiwan News. Associated Press. May 15, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  7. ^ a b "Child abduction case prompts ministerial-level altercation between Finland and Russia". Helsingin Sanomat, Internationnal Edition. 18 May 2009. Archived from the original on 21 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "Russia declares persona non grata Finnish boy-smuggling diplomat". Moscow: RIA Novosti. 2009-06-08. Archived from the original on 12 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Russia lashes out at Finland over kidnapping". RIA Novosti. 8 August 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-04. 
  10. ^ a b "Paavo Salosen taistelu kestänyt jo vuoden". Alueviesti (in Finnish). Retrieved 2009-05-16. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Rimma Salosen vastine Paavo Salosen hyökkäyksiin". 6 December 2008. 
  12. ^ Timo Myllyniemi (4 April 2008). "Missä on Anton?". Ilta Sanomat (in Finnish). Archived from the original on 19 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  13. ^ a b "Anton-pojan draamasta löytyi outoja yksityiskohtia". Uusi Suomi (in Finnish). 17 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  14. ^ "Jarmo Koponen: Anton Salonen". Uusi Suomi (in Finnish). 17 May 2009. Archived from the original on 19 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  15. ^ Maija Latva (9 April 2008). "Kaapatun pojan isä uskoo jälkien johtavan Vammalan Stormiin". Alueviesti (in Finnish): 5–6. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  16. ^ Tapio Pessi (20 November 2008). "Pikku-Anton pääsee kotiin Suomeen". Satakunnan Kansa. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  17. ^ Pyhittäjäisä Serafim Sarovilaisen Muistoyhdistys ry
  18. ^ a b "Anton unohti suomen kielen". Iltalehti (in Finnish). 23 July 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  19. ^ "Похищенный в Балахне 5-летний мальчик не имеет российского гражданства – решение суда". NTA Privolzhie. 18 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  20. ^ "СКП расследует дело о похищении Антона Салонена". 15 May 2009. Archived from the original on 17 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  21. ^ "ФИНН, ПОХИТИВШИЙ СЫНА АНТОНА, МОЖЕТ ПОПАСТЬ В РОССИЙСКУЮ ТЮРЬМУ". 16 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  22. ^ Carmen Mäkinen (15 May 2008). "ANTON-POIKANSA SUOMEEN SALAKULJETTANUT PAAVO: OLEMME HENGENVAARASSA!". 7 päivää (in Finnish). Archived from the original on 5 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  23. ^ "Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov Speaks to Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb by Telephone". PRESS RELEASE. MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION. May 14, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  24. ^ a b "Russian Foreign Minister demands explanations from Finland over child abduction". 15 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-10. 
  25. ^ a b "Russia protests child illegally taken out of country to Finland". RIA Novosti. 14 May 2009. Archived from the original on 18 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  26. ^ Jouni Mölsä (20 May 2008). "Venäjä jätti Suomelle nootin Anton Salosen salakuljetuksesta". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish). Archived from the original on 21 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  27. ^ a b "Tv-uutiset — Halonen: En tiennyt salakuljetuksesta etukäteen" (video) (in Finnish). YLE. 19 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-19. [dead link]
  28. ^ "Stubb Defends Father and Consulate in Custody Battle" (in English (Finnish)). YLE. 15 May 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  29. ^ Liisa Lehmus (18 May 2009). "Suomeen tuodun Anton-pojan kohtalo puhuttaa Venäjällä" (in Finnish). YLE Uutiset. Archived from the original on 21 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  30. ^ Tuula Rantonen (19 May 2009). "Mediasotaa itärajan kahta puolta". Karjalainen (in Finnish): editorial. Archived from the original on 22 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-19. 
  31. ^ a b "Russia launches kidnapping probe against Finnish father". RIA Novosti. 15 May 2009. Archived from the original on 19 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  32. ^ Helsingin Sanomat: Lapsikaappauksesta epäilty Anton Salosen äiti matkustuskieltoon
  33. ^ Helsingin Sanomat: Johan Bäckman: Poliisi ja Antonin isä tekivät ansan Rimma Saloselle
  34. ^ Helsingin Sanomat: Rimma Salosen tapaus kuohuttaa Venäjällä
  35. ^ Новости: Финская прокуратура обвинила россиянку Салонен в похищении ребенка
  36. ^ Iltasanomat: Venäläislehdet: Rimma Saloselle vaaditaan 7,5 vuoden tuomiota
  37. ^ Later, Rossiyanka interviewed the prosecutor, and corrected the false information:
  38. ^ Johan Bäckman: Johan Bäckmanin julkinen anteeksipyyntö Paavo Saloselle (in Finnish)
  39. ^ Helsingin Sanomat: Johan Bäckman haluaa sovitella riidat Paavo Salosen kanssa (in Finnish)
  40. ^
  41. ^ Yle: ILMIÖITÄ: Anton-pojan tapaus nousi ykkösuutiseksi Venäjällä
  42. ^ Uusi Suomi: Venäjällä nousi Suomi-kohu
  43. ^ Helsingin Sanomat: Rimma Salonen tuomittiin ehdolliseen vankeuteen
  44. ^ YLE: Rimma Salonen Loses Appeal
  45. ^ Office of the Children Rights Ombudsman for the President of the Russian Federation: П. Астахов намерен обратиться к Президенту Финляндии в связи с непрекращающимся (in Russian) 18 May 2010
  46. ^ Komsomolskaya Pravda: Дерусификация Антона Салонена идет полным ходом
  47. ^ MK.RU В Финляндии запретили русский язык
  48. ^ Iltasanomat: Huoltajuuskiistasta tuttu Rimma Salonen pyrkii eduskuntaan
  49. ^ Safka blogi: Jussi Parviainen, Johan Bäckman, Juha Molari, Rimma Salonen ovat SAFKAn eduskuntavaaliehdokkaat!
  50. ^ Electoral district of Helsinki Official results of Finnish Justice Ministry
  51. ^ HCCH - The Russian Federation becomes the 86th Contracting State to the Hague Child Abduction Convention
  52. ^
  53. ^ "Isä voitti Anton-pojan huoltajuuskiistan" (in Finnish). July 17, 2013. Retrieved July 17, 2013. 



See also[edit]