The Foundation to Promote Journalistic Culture (known by its Finnish acronym Jokes) is providing €30 000 to support the work of the journalists’ safe haven residency.

The residency project was initiated by the Union of Journalists in Finland (UJF) and is being run by the international organisation Artists at Risk.

The aim of the residency is to enable journalists to recover psychologically from war, persecution and imprisonment, and to give them the opportunity to work and network in Finland.  The initial phase of the project is aimed at journalists from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

Freedom of expression is currently weak worldwide and journalists are also being persecuted in Europe. The situation is particularly problematic in Belarus and Russia.

The Russian authorities have made it virtually impossible for independent media and journalists to work. Journalists can face up to 15 years in prison for passing on “false information”. In Belarus, following the 2020 presidential elections, the persecution of journalists working for free media has escalated to unprecedented levels.

Scores of journalists are in prison, media companies have been declared extremist organisations and people can be arrested for reading or following the media. Journalists in Ukraine are also at risk due to the war. Journalists there are a particular target of the military, and the number of victims is increasing day by day.

Providing safe residencies for journalists is a tangible show of support from journalists to journalists.

Jokes, established in 1991, is mandated  by its charter to promote journalists’ professionalism and freedom of expression. To support this, the foundation is making the donation to help start the safe haven residency, which is expected to be launched this year. The Helsingin Sanomat Foundation has also declared its support for the project.