Johan Bäckman

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For the Finnish painter, see Johan Backman (painter).
Johan Bäckman
Johan Backman Nashi Demonstration Helsinki 2009.jpg
Born (1971-05-18) 18 May 1971 (age 43)
Nationality Finnish
Alma mater University of Helsinki
Known for controversial views, pro-Russian statements, criticism of the Estonian government[1]

Erkki Johan Bäckman (born 18 May 1971) is a Finnish political author, legal sociologist and criminologist. In Russia he is also considered a human rights activist, defending especially rights of Russian citizens abroad. In his home country Finland he is considered merely a dissident, and persona non grata[2] in Estonia.

He received his training in sociology at the University of Helsinki, where he defended his Ph.D. in 2006,[3] and has a title of a docent (not an indication of a teaching position or employment)[4] of the sociology of law.[5] He also has a title of a docent[4] in criminology at the University of Turku[6] and the University of Eastern Finland. He has previously taught courses on the sociology of law, criminology, and Russian studies in several Finnish universities.

Bäckman has written books, some of which controversial, about Finnish-Soviet relations during the Cold War, war history of Finland and the Soviet Union, organized crime in Russia and Estonia, the Russian Mafia, terrorism, and the history of Estonia. As a spokesman for the Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee he is against the integration policies of Estonia and Latvia, claiming they are "apartheid policies". On the whole, he does not recognize them as states. In recent years Bäckman has frequently commented on Finnish-Russian child custody and grandmother cases in the Russian media.[7]

Bäckman has a background in music. According to Helsingin Sanomat he became a public figure in the late 1980s when playing the bassoon in the EBU Young Soloists Competition on national television. Bäckman also played the bassoon in the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.[8]

Bäckman in Russian media[edit]

According to Finnish Academy chairman Arto Mustajoki, Dr. Bäckman has five times more visibility in the Russian media than the Finnish premier Jyrki Katainen or president Tarja Halonen. He is also internationally best known person from the University of Helsinki. According to Mustajoki, Russians treat Bäckman as "hero" because he defends Russian minorities in the Baltic States.[9]

Bäckman and Russia[edit]

Bäckman is highly critical of the modern Finnish historiography of World War II and challenges the traditional Western account that Finland waged a separate Continuation War against the aggression of the USSR. According to Bäckman, the Finns participated in the Siege of Leningrad actively and asked Hitler to destroy the city. He speculates that Finland also planned an ethnic cleansing in Karelia in order to create a Finno-Ugric superpower, possibly stretching as far as the Urals, or even to the river Yenisei, which he claimed is proven by vast amounts of documents and in several Finnish history books by Helge Seppälä, Osmo Hyytiä and Nikolai Baryshnikov.[10]

Bäckman accuses Finland of being the aggressor in WWII: that it allied with Hitler in attacking the USSR in 1941 (Continuation War)—omitting the original source conflict (Winter War); plotted territorial expansion and planned to conduct ethnic cleansing; and that, along with the Estonians and Germans, believed in its Aryan origins (a Nordic master race). He contends Finns are both anti-Semitic and Russophobic, Russophobia being a "racist political ideology"—both per "several academic works by Finnish authors."[11]

In 2002, Bäckman publicly accused the Foreign Ministry of Finland of Russophobia and racism. He claimed that the ministry was preparing a campaign to smear Russia and return the territories lost in the Paris Peace Treaty.[12]

Bäckman has frequently travelled to Russia since 1993,[13] and is fluent in Russian. In 2000, he established a publishing institution named the Johan Beckman [sic] Institute in Saint Petersburg.[14]

In March 2002, during a military historical festival in Suojärvi in the Republic of Karelia which was dedicated to the 62nd anniversary of the end of the Winter War, Bäckman made a sensational claim that the modern authorities of Finland propagated the idea that the Russian people are genetically inferior and expected Russia to collapse in about twenty years.[13][15] The other participants at the festival considered that he unreasonably overestimated the extent of anti-Russian sentiment in Finland.[16] According to Bäckman's article "Finland without a mask" (the title alludes to a 1943 proclamation by Otto Wille Kuusinen), published in Russian in May 2002, the Finns in general consider themselves a superior nation, all Russian women prostitutes, and all Russian men thieves and bandits.[17] During 2002, Bäckman gained an odious reputation both in Russia and among his Finnish colleagues.[18]

In 2003, Johan Beckman Institute published the book Finland and the Siege of Leningrad 1941-1944 by the Russian historian Nikolai Baryshnikov. The Saint Petersburg legislature awarded Bäckman their Marshal Govorov Literature Prize (2003) for the book. Historian Timo Vihavainen, a historian at the University of Helsinki described it as "a book built on Stalinist propaganda stereotypes". Vihavainen also said that Baryshnikov had misunderstood some of the language in Finnish archive documents.[10] Bäckman and Baryshnikov threatened to sue Vihavainen.

According to Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Johan Bäckman was a talented researcher in Russian studies in the early 2000s, who has since "marginalized" himself in Finland.[19]

Bäckman's views of Vladimir Putin[edit]

In the pamphlet Finland washed with Anna Politkovskaya's blood Bäckman accuses the Finnish media of anti-Russian and anti-Putin sentiment.[20]

In his 2007 book Finland washed with Anna Politkovskaya's blood (Finnish: Saatana saapuu Helsinkiin, Literally: Satan Arrives in Helsinki, which alludes to Saatana saapuu Moskovaan, the Finnish language title for The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov) he supported the conspiracy theory that Anna Politkovskaya assassination was organized by circles who wanted to smear the Russian president Vladimir Putin.[21] Bäckman even hints that Politkovskaya was depressed and ordered her own murder. According to Bäckman, Politkovskaya, a Russian writer and human rights activist, was an American agent. He also criticizes Finns' reaction to the murder. Bäckman accused Finnish Green League politician Heidi Hautala and the Finnish media of inciting hatred towards Russia and Vladimir Putin. Hautala, depicted on the book cover (pictured), saw this as a smear campaign, but refused to take legal action, preferring to allow the book to speak for itself.[20]

Bäckman admires Vladmir Putin, crediting all recent successes of Russia to Putin's personality and health.[22][23] He has compared Putin to Cold War-era Finnish president Urho Kekkonen, and claimed he wishes Putin would likewise rule Russia for 26 years. He stated that Finland also needs organizations such as the pro-Kremlin Nashi and Walking Together.[22] According to Bäckman, the freedom of the press in Russia is considerably higher than in Finland, and Estonia is not free at all.[22]

Bäckman and Estonia[edit]

Bäckman has authored several writings, published in Finland and Estonia. Many of his published opinions are provocative and some have been regarded as pro-Putin and anti-Estonian by commentators in the Estonian press.[24] Bäckman has stated that Estonia "does not exist" as a sovereign state.[25]

According to Bäckman, the Estonians and Finns are actually one nation and the Republic of Estonia should be united with Finland where it could still have an autonomy.[26]

The Bronze Soldier book[edit]

In his highly controversial book about the Estonian Bronze Soldier Pronssisoturi: Viron patsaskiistan tausta ja sisältö, published in Finnish in 2008, Bäckman argues against the integration policies of Estonia. In his opinion, Estonian integration policies that have seen some 147,000 Russian speakers receiving Estonian citizenship in the past decade are "apartheid" and represent a "criminal discrimination of Russians".[21] In the Bronze Soldier he dismissed the Soviet occupation of Estonia as a "Nazi myth".[27] Bäckman has gained wide publicity in Estonia for denying the Soviet occupation during 1940-1941 and 1944-1991:

"In my opinion speaking or writing of Soviet "occupation" should be criminalised as a form of racist propaganda.

In connection to the publication of the book in September 2008, Bäckman gave several controversial interviews, e.g. one in which he claimed Estonia will join Russia within a decade.[21][28][29][30][31] Bäckman also claimed that the "destruction" of the Bronze Soldier grave site and monument in April 2007 by the Estonian government was "the end of history of Estonia". He speculated that most of the Russian youth all over Russia, including children, hate Estonia and deny her the right to exist. Bäckman went on to predict that in ten years at most, the Nashi would come to power in Russia, leading to an end of the Estonian statehood shortly afterwards.[21]

After the publication of the book, a number of Finnish and Estonian cultural figures, scholars, journalists and politicians, including Henrik Lax, Lasse Lehtinen and Sofi Oksanen, addressed the University of Helsinki in an open letter of protest, partly in relation to Bäckman teaching a course on "specialities of Estonian legal policy" in the Spring 2009 semester.[32] Bäckman immediately threatened to sue letter's authors for libel and later filed a criminal complaint, but Helsinki Police refused to open investigation.[33] The former minister of foreign affairs of Finland Dr. Erkki Tuomioja called Bäckman's book as "deliberate provocation", but condemned the open letter for violating the principles of freedom of speech.[34] The University of Helsinki distanced itself in a statement holding that Bäckman's political views are his own and do not represent the University's.[27][35]

Nashi protests in Helsinki[edit]

Bäckman arranged the "Nashi-protest" on 23 March 2009. The handful of demonstrators were the focus of attention for about 40 representatives of the media.[36]

In March 2009 Bäckman as part of the Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee arranged a series of protests in Helsinki attended by activists of Russian Nashi, Night Watch, against what they called the opening [of] a new anti-Russian front of information warfare on the territory of Finland by [the] Estonian embassy. Also Abdullah Tammi and his followers from the prospective Finnish Islamic Party participated. The protests were aimed against seminars, against a book about the Soviet occupation of Estonia, and against films presented by the Estonian embassy in Finland, especially the film Soviet Story by Edvins Snore.[36] In media commentaries for Swedish, Finnish and Russian press, television and radio, Bäckman claimed that the Soviet Union did not occupy Estonia, and belittled the significance of the Soviet deportations from Estonia.[36]

Estonian Internal Security Service and Bäckman[edit]

The Estonian Internal Security Service (Kaitsepolitseiamet) official Andres Kahar has claimed in the Estonian press that Bäckman is "a Russian propagandist" spreading disinformation similar to the claims Moscow makes.[37][38][39]

In March 2009, the newspaper Eesti Ekspress reported a link between Bäckman and the well-known Finnish neo-nazi Risto Teinonen, both of them being connected to the alleged former KGB agent Vladimir Ilyashevich residing in Estonia, and all of them are linked to the young Russian historian Alexander Dyukov. In the assessment by Kaitsepolitseiamet, Bäckman, Teinonen and Ilyashevich are working as a team with support from Moscow, attempting to undermine the names of many good people, the relations between Finland and Estonia, and the Republic of Estonia itself.[38]

Finnish counter-intelligence has not commented on Bäckman publicly. Regarding Nashi-demonstrations organised by Bäckman in Helsinki March 2009, the Finnish security police spokesman replied they heard "rumours" about the demonstrations but would not comment on issues regarding free democratic activism.[40]

Expulsion from Estonia[edit]

On 26 April 2009, Bäckman was detained after his disembarkation off a ferry in the Tallinn Passenger Port and expelled from the country under a brief entry prohibition. Among reasons for expulsion, the Estonian Minister of Internal Affairs lists first of all twelve statements by Bäckman in the Estonian press and in his blog, claiming Estonia is an "apartheid" regime that "falsifies" history. Helsingin Sanomat pointed out such prohibition against entry into Estonia by Finnish citizens is extremely rare. Previously such entry bans have been issued to some Finns suspected of connections with racist movements.[41] In December 2010 Tallinn regional court declared entry prohibitions against Bäckman illegal and ordered the Ministry of Internal Affairs compensate his legal fees in sum of 16 600 Estonian kroons.[42]

On 29 July 2011, Bäckman was again denied entry into Estonia and sent back to Finland.[43]

Bäckman and Finland[edit]

Bäckman has received considerable media attention in Russia, both in national TV channels, the press and Russian Internet news portals. Bäckman has been an active commentator of Finnish-Russian child custody and "grandmother cases". The Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle, quoting Timo Vihavainen, a famous opponent of Bäckman, speculated that this has happened due to fact that Bäckman's opinions match the interests of the Kremlin.[7]

Bäckman was an active commentator for Russian press during the Anton incident in 2009.[44][45] Later, Bäckman apologized for his behaviour, and promised not to further intervene in the incident.[1][46] However, he later deleted his apology, continuing to comment on the case.[47] He was also an active commentator for Russian press during the Rantala incident in 2010.[48] Bäckman also received media time with grandmother and similar child custody cases in 2010.[7]

Bäckman and Ukraine[edit]

In March 2014 Bäckman was invited to participate as observer by the Eurasian Observatory for Democracy & Elections (EODE),[49][50] a far-right Russia-based self-proclaimed election monitoring organization,[51] in disputed Crimean status referendum which resulted annexation of Crimea by Russia. Bäckman stated that he saw no violations and considered referendum to be in framework of international law.[52] In May he announced that separatist Donetsk People's Republic will open a representative office in Helsinki.[53]

Bäckman and Moldova[edit]

In May 2014 Bäckman was expelled from Moldova and received five-year entry ban, as his activities were regarded as undermining Moldova's statehood.[54]

Politics[edit]

Bäckman regards the Taistoists movement of the 1970s, the hardline pro-Soviet faction in the Communist Party of Finland, as "the best thing that happened in the history of Finland", "We can thank the Taistoists for high-quality science, art and culture we enjoy today", claims Bäckman.[55] Bäckman was an independent candidate for European Parliament election in 2009 on the Workers Party of Finland list. He got 554 votes and was not allocated a seat.[56]

In March 2011, Bäckman announced that he is a candidate for the 2011 Finnish parliamentary election on the Workers Party of Finland list.[57][58] He got only 36 votes and was not allocated a seat.[59]

In October 2012 he was a candidate in municipal elections in Espoo, getting 43 votes, not enough to receive a seat.[60]

Private life[edit]

Johan Bäckman is a son of Erkki Bäckman who was a Managing Director of Hartwall beverage company.[61] Johan Bäckman has litigated over child custody against his Soviet-born ex-wife for years in which both parties have received sentences for libel.[8][62] Bäckman's current family consists of a girl and two boys. His wife is a Russian language and literature teacher.[63] According to Helsingin Sanomat, Bäckman had been treated with caution in the Finnish public media because he is sensitive to make libels against journalists. According to the newspaper he has won a court case two times, but equally self-convicted of libel in July 2009.[8] Bäckman wrote a letter to the editor saying he had won seven libel cases during past couple of years, not two, as the paper claimed. Bäckman wrote he won the cases against five persons, all of whom are female citizens of Finland.[64]

Bäckman has a child from the previous relationship with Jaana Niemi. Niemi was born in the Soviet Union with Finnish origins, but lived in Russian culture. The family also spoke Finnish. In 1990, Niemi, then age of 15, moved from the Soviet Union to Finland. Bäckman and Niemi's relationship lasted six months and ended confrontational. A daughter was born in 2004. Soon after, Bäckman sued Jaana Niemi, her parents and friends dozens of times. Most of cases ended in pretrial investigations, but Bäckman run a few cases by himself in a court. The Finnish court Hovioikeus convicted Niemi once, and Bäckman was convicted twice. Niemi lives now in Milan, Italy.[65]

Awards[edit]

Works[edit]

  • Bäckman, Johan (1996). Venäjän organisoitu rikollisuus. Helsinki: Oikeuspoliittinen tutkimuslaitos. ISBN 951-704-191-8. 
  • Bäckman, Johan (1997). Liikkeenjohto Venäjän muutoksessa. Helsinki: WSOY. ISBN 951-0-21672-0. 
  • Bäckman, Johan (1998). The inflation of crime in Russia: The social danger of the emerging markets. Helsinki: National Research Institute of Legal Policy. ISBN 951-704-211-6. 
  • Bäckman, Johan (1999). "Sudella on sata tietä...": Pietarin organisoitu rikollisuus Venäjän rikosoikeuskulttuurin kehyksessä. Helsinki: Oikeuspoliittinen tutkimuslaitos. ISBN 951-704-240-X. 
  • Bäckman, Johan (2001). Entäs kun tulee se yhdestoista? Suomettumisen uusi historia. Helsinki: WSOY. ISBN 951-0-25654-4. 
  • Bäckman, Johan (2006). Itämafia: Uhkakuvapolitiikka, rikosilmiöt ja kulttuuriset merkitykset. Espoo: Poliisiammattikorkeakoulu. ISBN 951-815-112-1. 
  • Bäckman, Johan (2007). Saatana saapuu Helsinkiin: Anna Politkovskajan murha ja Suomi. Helsinki: Russia Advisory Group. ISBN 978-952-99785-1-9. 

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Anti-Estonian Johan Bäckman refused entry at Port of Tallinn". Helsingin Sanomat. 27 April 2009. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 
  3. ^ Johan Bäckman: Itämafia. Ethesis.helsinki.fi. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  4. ^ a b Lajunen, Lauri; Savunen, Liisa (11 February 2010). "Dosentin arvon englanninkielinen käännös" [Translation of the title of docent into English] (in Finnish). Suomen yliopistot – Finlands universitet – Universities Finland UNIFI. Retrieved 11 October 2012. 
  5. ^ Oikeustieteellinen tiedekunta. Helsinki.fi. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  6. ^ Asiantuntija: Johan Bäckman. Notes.utu.fi (13 May 2008). Retrieved 26 July 2012.
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  8. ^ a b c Mäkinen, Esa (6 December 2010). "Johan on kumma!". Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish): C1. 
  9. ^ Yliopisto No. 1/2013, p. 42
  10. ^ a b New Book on Siege Gets A Hot Finnish Response | The St. Petersburg Times | The leading English-language newspaper in St. Petersburg. Sptimes.ru. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  11. ^ Bäckman, J. "The Janša-Patria Case (or Chase): A Challenge for Mediacriminology"—Primer Janša-Patria (lov na čarovnice): izziv za kriminologijo medijev
  12. ^ (Russian) йЮПЕКХЪ N 4 (16 ЪМБЮПЪ 2003): опнькне - мюярнъыее: вЕЛС МЮЯ СВХР ЦНПЭЙХИ НОШР...пЮГЦНБНПШ НА ЮЙРХБХГЮЖХХ ЮМРХПСЯЯЙХУ МЮЯРПНЕМХИ Б тХМКЪМДХХ, ЯЙНПЕЕ БЯЕЦН, ОПЕЯКЕДСЧР ВХЯРН ОНКХРХВЕЯЙХЕ ЖЕКХ. Gov.karelia.ru. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
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  20. ^ a b Helsingin Sanomat: Book accuses media and Green MP of inciting anti-Russian sentiment (1 March 2007). Hs.fi. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  21. ^ a b c d Десять лет, которые потрясут Эстонию Den' za Dnyom (Russian)
  22. ^ a b c АПН Северо-Запад / Я - не агент ФСБ!. Apn-spb.ru. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  23. ^ АПН Северо-Запад / Путин - как натянутый лук - пускает стрелу Амура прямо в сердце Европы. Apn-spb.ru. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  24. ^ Eesti Ekspress 23 February 2009 12:43: Räige Eesti-vastane kampaania käib kolmes riigis korraga, edited by Askur Alas
  25. ^ ves.lv 6 March 2009 13:02: "Эстония? Нет такого государства!", interview by Yelena Slyusareva
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  28. ^ (German) "Estland in zehn Jahren Teil der Russischen Föderation". Der Standard. 11 September 2008. Retrieved 13 September 2008. 
  29. ^ Bäckman: Eesti on teel otse põrgusse Eesti Päevaleht 11 August 2008 (Estonian)
  30. ^ Finnish writer: Estonia to lose independence in 10 years Baltic Business News 11 August 2008
  31. ^ Эстония прямиком движется в ад Molodezh Estonii 15 August 2008
  32. ^ Avoin kirje vaatii Bäckmanin opetuksen tutkintaa Helsingin yliopistossa - HS.fi - Kulttuuri. HS.fi. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
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  34. ^ Tuomioja, Erkki (October 2008). "Pitäisikö provosoitua?". Retrieved 31 March 2009. 
  35. ^ Helsingi ülikool distantseerus Bäckmani seisukohtadest Postimees 27 March 2008 (Estonian)
  36. ^ a b c Helsingin Sanomat: Hundreds of listeners and a handful of protesters attend publication of book on Estonia (24 March 2007). Hs.fi. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  37. ^ Viivik, Allar (23 March 2008). "Kapo: milleks aidata Vene propagandamasinat?". SL Õhtuleht (in Estonian). Retrieved 26 September 2008. 
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  39. ^ "Eurasian Secret Services Daily Review". Global Challenges Research. Retrieved 15 April 2010. 
  40. ^ http://www.uusisuomi.fi/kotimaa/53880-supo-nashien-helsingin-retkesta-”olemme-kuulleet-huhuja”
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  43. ^ Priit Burbot (30 July 2011). "Bäckman was sent back to Finland". ERR. Retrieved 4 January 2012. 
  44. ^ Iltasanomat: Antonin äiti: Tuomio on epäoikeudenmukainen - katso video (in Finnish)
  45. ^ RIA Novosti: Russian woman convicted of kidnapping own son in Finland. En.rian.ru (13 October 2009). Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  46. ^ Johan Bäckman: Johan Bäckmanin julkinen anteeksipyyntö Paavo Saloselle (in Finnish)
  47. ^ http://kohudosentti.blogspot.fi/2010/08/suomi-kielsi-anton-saloselta-venajan.html
  48. ^ "Бронзовый мальчик" (in Russian). Kommersant. Retrieved 27 March 2010. 
  49. ^ Sandra Štefaniková (2014-03-19). "Politici jeli na Krym s extremisty. Bylo to narychlo, říkají". Aktuálně.cz. Retrieved 2014-03-20. 
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  52. ^ Banks, Martin (18 March 2014). "International election monitors refuted suggestions of violations in the Crimean referendum". European Business Review. Retrieved 2014-07-06. 
  53. ^ "Ukrainian separatists opening mission in Helsinki". Yle. 7 May 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-06. 
  54. ^ "Finnish human rights activist Backman deported from Moldova, banned entry for five years". Interfax. 29 May 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-07. 
  55. ^ Bruun, Staffan (22 March 2009). "Han bjöd in 30 Putinunga" (in Swedish). Hufvudstadsbladet. Retrieved 29 March 2009. 
  56. ^ "EUROPARLAMENTTIVAALIT 7.6.2009 - Tulos - Koko maa" (in Finnish). vaalit.fi (the Official Results by the Ministry of Justice). Retrieved 13 June 2009. 
  57. ^ Iltasanomat: Huoltajuuskiistasta tuttu Rimma Salonen pyrkii eduskuntaan. Iltasanomat.fi (3 March 2011). Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  58. ^ Safka blogi: Jussi Parviainen, Johan Bäckman, Juha Molari, Rimma Salonen ovat SAFKAn eduskuntavaaliehdokkaat!. Antifasistit.blogspot.com. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
  59. ^ Electoral district of Helsinki Official results of Finnish Justice Ministry
  60. ^ http://vaalit.yle.fi/tulospalvelu/2012/kuntavaalit/ehdokkaat/ehdokas_2_49_582.html Yle results of candidate Bäckman, Johan
  61. ^ "Johan Bäckmani isa teenis mullu 1,7 miljonit eurot". Delfi (in Estonian). 6 November 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
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  64. ^ Helsingin Sanomat 16 December 2010
  65. ^ "Bäckmanin ex-naisystävän perheen piina jatkunut kahdeksan vuotta" (in Finnish). Helsingin Sanomat. 2 December 2012. 
  66. ^ http://ruskline.ru/news_rl/2013/02/14/finskij_pravozawitnik_johan_bekman_nagrazhden_vysshej_yuridicheskoj_premiej_femida/
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  68. ^ В петербургском парламенте вручали литературную премию ко Дню Победы (in Russian), Lenizdat.ru, 6.5.2004, retrieved 2008-08-20 

External links[edit]

Media related to Johan Bäckman at Wikimedia Commons