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Finland Demands Explanation over U.S. Sanctions on Finns over Ukraine Crisis

Finland has asked the United States to explain why two Finnish citizens and four enterprises have been slapped with sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine, the Finnish Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

"When we were informed of this, we asked the U.S. authorities for the grounds of these sanctions. In the global economy this has negative implications for those listed," the ministry's head of legal services, Paivi Kaukoranta, told AFP.

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Finland Says No Plans to Deploy Units along Russia Border

Finland's defense minister on Wednesday denied recent reports that his country is planning to deploy rapid response units along its border with Russia, amid intense regional tensions over the crisis in Ukraine.

"We don't have any new units, and during peacetime no redeployment of units is happening," Jussi Niinisto told Finnish news agency STT.

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Report: Russian Gay Couple Gets Asylum in Finland

A Russian gay couple has been granted asylum in Finland because of the discrimination they faced at home over their sexual orientation, Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported on Friday.

Vladimir Naumov and Vasily Kolesnikov applied for asylum in the Nordic country in September 2014 and the two men were informed earlier this week that it had been granted, the paper said.

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Russia Blasts Finland for Barring Parliament Speaker

Moscow on Wednesday slammed Finland for refusing entry to the speaker of Russia's parliament in the latest high-profile spat between the Kremlin and the European Union over the blacklisting of officials due to the Ukraine crisis.

The Finnish foreign ministry said Wednesday that it has barred six Russian officials, including the speaker of parliament's Duma lower house Sergei Naryshkin, from attending an upcoming Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) meeting in Helsinki. 

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Finnish Military Fires on Suspected Submarine in Baltic

Finland said Tuesday its navy had fired warning shots at a possible submarine off the coast of Helsinki in the early hours of the morning.

"During surveillance of (Finland's) territorial integrity, the navy detected a possible underwater object at midday (0900 GMT) on April 27, 2015, within Finland's territorial waters close to the border outside Helsinki," the defense ministry said in a statement.

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Opposition Center Wins Finnish Election, Ousts PM Stubb

Finland's opposition Center Party won Sunday's general election, ousting Prime Minister Alexander Stubb's left-right coalition after a campaign dominated by the country's economic woes.

Center Party leader Juha Sipila, a 53-year-old IT millionaire and newcomer to politics, is set to become Finland's next prime minister.

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Finnish PM Alexander Stubb Concedes Election Defeat

Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb conceded defeat in Sunday's general election, which saw the opposition Center Party and its leader Juha Sipila come out on top.

"It seems as though the Center has won. Congratulations," Stubb told Finnish public radio and television YLE.

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Nordic Countries to Step up Defense Cooperation over Russia

The Nordic countries pledged Friday to step up military cooperation in a declaration which referred to Russia as the "biggest challenge to European security".

The defense ministers of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland and Iceland's foreign minister said they were responding to a changed security situation caused by Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict and increased Russian military activity in the Baltic region.

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Finland Sentences Four for Funding Somalia's Shebab

A Finnish court on Friday handed suspended jail terms to three men and one woman for financing Somalia's Al-Qaida-linked Shebab rebels, in the Nordic country's first terrorism funding trial.

The court said the four sent around 3,000 euros ($3,700) between 2008 and 2011 to the group, which has been staging a bloody insurgency to overthrow Somalia's internationally-backed government and has staged attacks in neighboring Kenya as well.

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13,000 Quit Finnish Church in Gay Marriage Row

More than 13,000 people have left Finland's Lutheran Church in three days in a row over gay marriage after an archbishop said he "rejoiced" that it could soon be legal.

Archbishop Kari Makinen said he "rejoiced from the bottom of his heart" on Friday at parliament's vote approving a people's petition that paves the way for a same-sex marriage law.

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