A STORY OF JEOPARDY IN JYVÄSKYLÄ
Jyväskylä is the Athens of Finland, so they say, due to its role as an educational centre. It was the name given to it in the The Kalevala, the epic poem of collected folk lore and songs by Elias Lönnrot that is considered the national epic of Finland.
Juriitta was one of the current students at the University of Jyväskylä. Her parents had tried to convince her to stay in Helsinki in order for them to keep an eye on her, but she convinced them that Jyväskylä was the only place she could realise her ambitions. Teaching, she had told them when they had asked what those ambitions were. The University began life in the mid-1800s as the first Finnish-speaking Teacher Training College. Juriitta declined to mention the more recent expansion into courses in Cyber Securities, in cooperation with the Finnish Defence Forces.
She had been offered a deal when they had tracked her down. Five-to-ten years in jail or get a degree and come and work for them. She told them it was a difficult thing for her to decide, she pretended she was wrestling with her conscience. She was anti-establishment, sick of the political class and the economic struggles they had overseen. She said she was filled with regret. She was just a naïve girl, mucking about with computers. She had hacked the national defence intranet almost by accident. She told the Finnish Defence Department officials exactly what she had been trained to tell them.
It was difficult to tell if they believed her. She was sure they had not made the link back to Konstantin. He had seduced her in her final year of school. Ten years older than her, with money, a flash car, dark hair and a charming smile. He didn’t try to lie to her, he told her straight out. He was Russian and he worked for the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation – the SVR, although many still called it the KGB.
Why her? Juriitta had asked. She had been talking to a colleague of his online, he said. Veeti, a sixteen year old boy from Vantaa was actually Mikhail, a fifty year old watcher in Moscow. Mikhail had steered their online chats towards politics and noted her discontent with her country, her loner and counter-culture status and her ability with computer programming. He had sent a flag up the chain in SVR headquarters. A potential recruit, there weren’t many in Finland that suited their needs. Finland had been ranked as the happiest place in the world to live by the United Nations in 2018, it was hard to find discontent. Eventually headquarters told Konstantin to make contact.
He met her one day as she left school, bumping in to her on the crowded train home, smiling and holding eye contact, alighting at the same stop. They walked together, he paid her the sort of close attention she was unused to. They met up that weekend. He seduced her easily and told her the truth. She followed their instructions to the letter, and allowed Konstantin to train her.
All that was four years ago. Now she was close to graduating and taking up her position within the Finnish Government’s Cyber Security Department. How long she would have to wait after that she didn’t know. Would it be Konstantin that would get in touch with her again? She hadn’t seen him since she had left Helsinki, but their love still lived on in a discrete, encrypted corner of cyberspace.
All she knew was the malware programme she had been given. When the time was right she would infect the Finnish network with it. To what end she couldn’t guess. Somewhere in Russia there were some old men who still dreamed of empire. Somewhere in Moscow someone wanted to restore Russia’s place in the world.
All Juriitta dreamed of was Konstantin and the promised life together in Moscow.
It never occurred to her that his name wasn’t really Konstantin and his other notable attributes included assassination, elusion and a sociopath’s lack of emotion.
Written as part of The A to Z Challenge 2018. Click HERE for more details of the challenge.
Each day in April we will visit a different town or city in the European Union, whose name will begin with the letter of the day – today it’s a trip to Jyväskylä in Finland for some political intrigue – for a story based on a theme also corresponding to the same letter.
Over the course of the month and 26 stories, we will visit all 28 member countries to complete a farewell tour before Britain leaves the political union next year, touching on the history, politics, culture and people at the heart of Europe.
For a full list of stories and the places visited, visit here: THE A TO Z CHALLENGE 2018.
Tomorrow, 2 countries for the price of 1.