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CRIME

Finns accused of smuggling tonnes of Swedish snus across the border

Prosecutors believe the Finns had been running a snus smuggling ring for years.

Finns accused of smuggling tonnes of Swedish snus across the border
File photo of the moist tobacco snus. Photo: Erlend Aas/NTB scanpix/TT

Snus, moist oral tobacco snuff, has been banned from being sold anywhere in the EU since 1992, apart from in Sweden which negotiated an exemption to the ban when it joined the union in 1995.

Eight people are now suspected of having smuggled more than 12 tonnes of snus from Sweden to neighbouring Finland between 2016 and 2018, the Finnish customs authority said on Monday.

The main suspect is a Finnish man in his 50s who lives just across the border in Haparanda in Sweden. A younger person, also residing in Sweden, is suspected of having helped him.

The other suspects live near the Finnish capital and in Kajanaland in eastern Finland.

All eight are accused of smuggling and aggravated tax fraud.

Bringing small amounts of snus into Finland is allowed for private consumption. But according to prosecutors, the tobacco – in total 12,700 kilos – was bought in Swedish stores and transported in several cars to customers in the Kemi-Torneå area, then distributed further south in Finland.

The suspected smuggling ring was caught when customs officers stopped a van carrying 175 kilos of snus in Finland in April this year.

It is estimated that the main suspect made around 80,000 euros on the smuggling.

The case is to go before a Lapland court later this autumn.

OPINION: The disgusting Swedish habit that I just can't stand

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CRIME

Swedish Green leader: ‘Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity’

The riots that rocked Swedish cities over the Easter holidays were nothing to do with religion or ethnicity, but instead come down to class, the joint leader of Sweden's Green Party has told The Local in an interview.

Swedish Green leader: 'Easter riots nothing to do with religion or ethnicity'

Ahead of a visit to the school in Rosengård that was damaged in the rioting, Märta Stenevi said that neither the Danish extremist Rasmus Paludan, who provoked the riots by burning copies of the Koran, nor those who rioted, injuring 104 policemen, were ultimately motivated by religion. 

“His demonstration had nothing to do with religion or with Islam. It has everything to do with being a right extremist and trying to to raise a lot of conflict between groups in Sweden,” she said of Paludan’s protests. 

“On the other side, the police have now stated that there were a lot of connections to organised crime and gangs, who see this as an opportunity to raise hell within their communities.”

Riots broke out in the Swedish cities of Malmö, Stockholm, Norrköping, Linköping and Landskrona over the Easter holidays as a result of Paludan’s tour of the cities, which saw him burn multiple copies of the Koran, the holy book of Islam. 

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More than 100 police officers were injured in the riots, sparking debates about hate-crime legislation and about law and order. 

According to Stenevi, the real cause of the disorder is the way inequality has increased in Sweden in recent decades. 

“If you have big chasms between the rich people and poor people in a country, you will also have a social upheaval and social disturbance. This is well-documented all across the world,” she says. 
 
“What we have done for the past three decades in Sweden is to create a wider and wider gap between those who have a lot and those who have nothing.” 

 
The worst way of reacting to the riots, she argues, is that of Sweden’s right-wing parties. 
 
“You cannot do it by punishment, by adding to the sense of outsider status, you have to start working on actually including people, and that happens through old-fashioned things such as education, and a proper minimum income, to lift people out of their poverty, not to keep them there.”

This, she says, is “ridiculous”, when the long-term solution lies in doing what Sweden did to end extreme inequality at the start of the 20th century, when it created the socialist folkhem, or “people’s home”. 

“It’s easy to forget that 100 to 150 years ago, Sweden was a developing country, with a huge class of poor people with no education whatsoever. And we did this huge lift of a whole nation. And we can do this again,” she says. “But it needs resources, it needs political will.” 
 
 
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