Meet The Press: Finland's Rikhard Husu of Yle

In this new series, The Parliament sets out to meet every foreign correspondent in town. Finland's public broadcaster is up first
Illustration by Tracy Worrall

By Sean Craig

Sean Craig is a business and investigative journalist who has contributed to The Daily Beast, the Financial Post, BuzzFeed News and Vice

04 Jan 2023

We meet Rikhard Husu, Brussels correspondent for Finnish public broadcaster Yle,at a café. In a testament to his European Union microcelebrity, he is instantly recognised by a fellow Finn at a nearby table.

How did you end up in journalism?

The way it happens for many people: during my first year studying in Helsinki [where Husu is from], I started working for Yle. I worked for them more and more and, after a few years, I realised – oh! – I more or less have a permanent job. Now I’ve been at Yle for 20 years.

Finland is known, at least among music nerds, for a huge goth subculture – the band HIM are literally tabloid fodder on par with royals. Was that ever your thing?

I’m a classical person. I listen to Jean Sibelius, our national composer. But back in the day when they weren’t huge and before they weren’t touring all of Europe I did see HIM in Helsinki! I can appreciate it even if it’s not my thing.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s personal life has become something of a preoccupation of foreign media. Is that a bad thing?

It is positive in that there is interest in Finland. It didn’t use to be like this, where other journalists ask me about our politics. It’s been fascinating to watch her as a European politician. From the start, Marin inherited a very difficult situation — her predecessor was ousted, she took over during Finland’s EU presidency in 2019, and then she’s had the Coronavirus crisis and the Ukraine war. And, depending on the 2023 election in Finland, which the Social Democrats are not guaranteed to win, there is the question of what she could do after her premiership. You already hear Brussels people asking whether she would be interested in a Brussels position in the future.

What do you miss about Finland?

Wild nature. I am an urban person so I am okay with Belgium. But in Helsinki you can go 20 kilometres and you will end up in a real forest. You can put your hand on a warm rock. You can smell the salt of the sea in the air.

How did you find yourself in Brussels?

I’m from the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland, so I started in Yle’s Swedish department. There, you get to do everything. We are just five, maybe six, per cent of the population so, compared to the Finnish department, it’s a small team and you end up hosting programmes, debates, radio, TV, online. Four years ago, I moved here as the Swedish language correspondent. This year a Finnish-speaking position came up, with the chance to report for that much bigger audience, and I applied for it and got it.

What’s a notable issue in Finnish politics right now?

Climate change from forestry. There are big divisions, and there is pressure on Finland to preserve more forest, but land owners and parts of the industry say, “Well, we have done a fairly good job at this already.” There’s an ongoing argument about what the Finnish position on that issue should be.

Finally, when is the last time you had pea soup and pancakes? [Hernekeitto and pannukkau, as they are known, are traditionally served as a Thursday lunch.]

It would have been at a recent briefing at the Swedish representation – the Swedes share this tradition. You feel like you are a part of a Nordic extended family when you eat it.

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