Police launch investigation of neo-Nazi gathering, as Independence Day marches are banned

Members of the Nordic Resistance Movement march through the streets of Turku on Saturday 18th August 2018 / Credit: Eemeli Sarka / News Now Finland

The National Bureau of Investigation says it is looking into whether the Nordic Resistance Movement has breached a court ruling to suspend its operations, by protesting under a different name instead.

On Saturday 9th November several far right protesters were seen in three Helsinki locations holding up a “Towards Freedom” banner and flags. The group’s branding used the same colours and similar style logo to the Nordic Resistance Movement, which has been ordered by Finland’s Supreme Court to temporarily suspend its operations.

“Police suspect the ‘Towards Freedom’ movement is a continuation of the Nordic Resistance Movement, in violation of the court’s provisional injunction” says Erkki Rossi, Director of the Investigation at the National Bureau of Investigation.

“The suspected crime here is the illegal activity of a non-profit organisation” he adds.

Previous investigation 

The National Bureau of Investigation opened a preliminary investigation into the Nordic Resistance Movement last April, following a request by the Police Board to investigate suspected illegal activities associated with the far right vastarinta.com website.

“The Police Board had become aware that, despite the Supreme Court’s temporary ban, the Nordic Resistance Movement was continuing to operate on its website” explains Erkki Rossi.

The Finnish Supreme Court ordered a temporary ban on the Nordic Resistance Movement on 28th March 2019 which stays in place until the court rules on the dissolution of the organisation.

According to the law, an association which is subject to a temporary ban must immediately cease to exist.

Screenshot from live video of Nordic Resistance Movement protest outside Merilahden school in east Helsinki / Credit: YouTube

Independence Day marches banned 

In a related move, the National Police Board has apparently instructed local police forces on how to act if the Nordic Resistance Movement wants to hold any Independence Day rallies.

The Board reminds local forces that demonstrations or street activities are prohibited on the basis of the temporary ban – and that means associated flags or badges are also prohibited.

According to the instructions, reported by the Finnish News Agency STT, police can suspend or end any far right activities however police would have to be sure that they are directly connected with the Nordic Resistance Movement which is not always easy when the organisation’s members can simply re-brand themselves.

Police say the temporary ban on the organisation does not restrict the rights of individuals to free speech – they just can’t do it under the auspices of the Nordic Resistance Movement.

Nordic Resistance Movement protesters scuffle with anti-fascist protesters in Turku on Saturday 18th August 2018 / Credit: Eemeli Sarka, News Now Finland