I have lived my whole life, with a few short exceptions, in Helsinki. My family moved from St. Petersburg to Finland in the 1990s, before I was born. Since childhood, I’ve mostly lived in Western districts of Helsinki, particularly Pitäjänmäki and Taka-Töölö, where I also went to school.
When I was a child, my life at home was Russian-speaking: my parents read Russian fairy tales to me, we ate blini and kasha, and travelled to St. Petersburg once in a while to visit my grandma and the museums of the Russian cultural capital. The world outside my home, on the other hand, was Finnish-speaking: there, I went to school and hobbies, learned Finnish pop songs on the scouts’ campfires and spent summers at my friends’ cabins and cottages.
My experiences as a second-generation immigrant encouraged me to take part in public life. As I have been raised in two cultures in a multicultural Helsinki, I have always wanted to build bridges between cultures and speak up for the rights of minorities. Even though Helsinki is more diverse and international as ever before, too many still face discrimination based on ethnicity, race or background. This needs to change.
The scouts, where I have been active from the local to the international level, have had an important impact on my values, and the way I see the world. As a teenager, I spent many weekends in Nuuksio National Park and the cabin of our scouts group in Veikkola. These were the first times I realised how important it is to protect the nature and the environment. In the scouts, we take the initiative and learn by doing – during my years as a scout, I learned to be a group and a camp leader, professional communications and marketing skills, and how to lead large projects. In the municipal elections, I also represent the Finnish Scouts programme.
After high school, I started my studies of World Politics at the University of Helsinki. My main interest are the courses of Peace and Conflict Studies, as they deal with the most difficult and severe challenges of humankind – wars and violence. Also, I have studied Development Studies and Russian Studies. On my Erasmus exchange in Strasbourg, France, I completed a Certificate of European Studies programme.
Parallel to my studies, I have worked as a fundraiser for UNICEF, as a deck hand on ferries in the Helsinki archipelago, as a Junior Consultant in a think tank, in a development cooperation project in Kenya, in the Embassy of Finland in Pretoria, South Africa, and lastly, as journalist and a TV news presenter of the Russian-language Yle news in Finland. Currently I represent the young people of Finland as the UN Youth Delegate – in this role, I’ve had the opportunity to speak about youth social marginalization at the UN General Assembly.
I chose the Greens as my political party, because like many other young people, I want to our planet to stay livable for the next generations. I want to speak up for Human Rights, equality, feminism and antiracism. In my opinion, it is important to protect minorities in politics, and I want Finland to develop its welfare state. Social marginalization and the wellbeing of youth has to be a higher priority for Helsinki – not a single young person should be left behind.
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