Arctic Sea

Echoes of the Arctic Sea

Writing à propos of Thomas Berglund’s recent article in Svenska Dagbladet on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Treaty of Fredrikshamn, at which Sweden had to sign away its territories east of the Gulf of Bothnia to Imperial Russia (Berglund calls it a “national trauma”), Tobias Ljungvall looks back on some of the less well-known aspects of the Finnish independence struggle. He discusses the role of a later independence activist, the writer and revolutionary Konni Zilliacus the elder (1855-1924), whose life, Tobias says, “ought to deserve a film or television series”. Zilliacus, the author of such venerable but probably now little-read works as Det revolutionära Ryssland, Från ofärdstid och ofärdsår, Korruptionen i Ryssland, and Moskoviter och finnar, was actively involved in the so-called “Grafton Affair” , which involved an unsuccessful attempt to smuggle arms to the Finnish resistance by ship along the Baltic in 1905.

The comments to Tobias’ post make rather sad reading: someone has posted part of Silmien Välliin, a Finnish wartime song from 1942, which talks of “shooting the Russians between the eyes”, and another (Russian?) commenter has responded with what purports to be a Russian translation of the song’s words, but is in fact a totally different text accusing Finns of racism and Nazi sympathies.

Editor tells BBC: "As long as I am out of Russia I feel safe"

Mikhail Voitenko, the Russian editor who was thought to have disappeared in Moscow, has spoken to the BBC:

Speaking to the BBC from Turkey, Mr Voitenko said he had received a threatening phone call from “serious people” whom he suggested may have been members of Russia’s intelligence agency, the FSB.

The caller told Mr Voitenko that those involved in the mysterious case of the Arctic Sea were very angry with him because he had spoken publicly, and were planning on taking action against him, he said.

“As long as I am out of Russia I feel safe,” Mr Voitenko told the BBC. “At least they won’t be able to get me back to Russia and convict [me].”

He also said Nato knew exactly what had happened to the Arctic Sea.

A Nato spokesman said the alliance had been in contact with Russia throughout the crisis, but would not say anything more.  

However, a new statement on the Sovfrakht website says:

Today a number of media reported that the chief editor of the online edition of “Marine Bulletin Sovfrakht” had gone into hiding in Istanbul after receiving threats, and that his life was in danger. The assumptions are based on the fact that for some time now Mikhail Voitenko has not been been available for contact. The management of OJSC «Sovfrakht” sent the editor of MB Sovfrakht on a business trip to Istanbul. The Press Service of JSC “Sovfrakht” is always open for cooperation with reliable media whose main task is to cover events professionally and honestly. With regret we refute the facts presented by some media, of threats received by Voitenko. The publication MB-Sovfrakht covers events related to maritime navigation, and Russia’s seamen. In its work changes are planned that will broaden its subscriber base and serve the development of Russia as a maritime power. In particular, we plan to develop not only the news stream, but also the analytical direction, including the study of international experience, and this is what M. Voitenko is presently engaged in.

Press Centre “Sovfrakht-Sovmortrans” Group

Editor denies "disappearance" reports

After the Moscow Times reported that Mikhail Voitenko, editor of the Sovfrakht Marine Bulletin website, had fled Russia after receiving death threats from Russian state officials, a message purporting to be from Voitenko himself has appeared on the site, saying that he has not disappeared, is on business in Istanbul, Turkey, and is preparing “some interesting reports”. Voitenko repeats his request to the media “to leave the crew of the Arctic sea alone”, and says that in three or four days the Sovfrakht Bulletin website will resume normal operation.