Did Prime Minister Juha Sipilä Try to Silence Yle? Sipilä-gate, Explained
“Vladimir Sipilä.” “A dictator.” “Resign!” These are some of the heated comments flooding the social media after the national broadcasting company YLE and a Finnish weekly Suomen Kuvalehti had published their critical articles concerning Prime Minister Juha Sipilä.
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YLE reported on Friday that Terrafame Oy, which owns the mining business of Talvivaara in Sotkamo, placed an order of 500,000 euros from Katera Steel, a steel manufacturing company owned by Prime Minister Sipilä’s relatives. Just a few days before Sipilä had approved additional funding of 100 million euros for Terrafame.
On the night when the news came out, Sipilä sent almost 20 messages to a Yle reporter, where he said that he doesn’t trust Yle at all. The problem, according to Sipilä, were the facts. And the fact, that he wasn’t given a decent opportunity to comment on the story.
The media got heated when Suomen Kuvalehti reported that after the message flood, Yle decided not to publish any follow-up stories on its claims because Sipilä had silenced Yle. Not even the one article, already written and to be published next. The news spread like wildfire, even to Sweden.
Sipilä corrected Yle’s facts in his blog post, which was titled “False Facts in Yle’s Story, Again.”
Yle wrote: Katera Steel, was founded by Sipilä’s grandfather.
Sipilä said: The company in question, Katera Steel Oy, is not founded by my grandfather.
Yle wrote: Sipilä himself worked there as a 15-year-old.
Sipilä said: It isn’t true either that I would have worked in Katera Steel Oy when I was 15 because at that time Katera didn’t exist.
[alert type=white ]”I haven’t shut anyone’s mouth.”[/alert]
The broadcasting company corrected the story later. However, the false facts added weight to the early version, which, according to Sipilä, implied that his supposed agenda was to contribute to the financing of Terrafame so that his relatives from Katera Steel would receive orders from the mining company.
It turns out, however, that Sipilä and some of his relatives aren’t very close.
CEO of Katera Steel and Sipilä’s cousin, Ismo Jauhiainen, said that he hasn’t seen Sipilä in three years. The communication stopped when Sipilä became active in politics. “Juha has after that been very busy. One hasn’t dared to call him and ask for news,” Jauhiainen said.
On Wednesday afternoon at the Sibelius-Akatemia turned Parliament, Sipilä stood in front of dozens of reporters who were packed around him.
“My family has gone through tough times lately. When my family becomes a part of this, I admit that I reply and replied emotionally to this email, and when looking afterward, it shows on the blog as well,” Sipilä said. “I gave strong feedback to the reporter because Kansan Uutiset (a Finnish daily) had made a story on the same subject and they gave me an opportunity to reply to that,” Sipilä continued.
According to Sipilä, Yle had asked to comment on the story one and a half hours before its publication. “You don’t want to approach a prime minister with an email. It’s worth trying to call the assistants with a phone. Certainly, a reply is given on time,” Sipilä said. “I haven’t shut anyone’s mouth.”
Atte Jääskeläinen, the editor-in-chief at Yle, wrote on Monday that Yle was not silenced by Sipilä. “He, apparently mad, announced that his trust in Yle is an absolute zero. On the other hand, he also saw that according to his impression, the feeling is mutual,” Jääskeläinen said.
According to Jääskeläinen, Yle continued to deal with the subject in its several news outlets. On Monday, Jääskeläinen made a decision to not speculate on the subject in its talk shows and instead waits for the parliamentary ombudsman to make a decision whether Prime Minister Sipilä was legally disqualified to make a decision on the additional funding for Talvivaara.