Morning headlines: Thursday 15th August 2019

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Putin’s Finland visit distracts from problems at home 

Russian President Vladimir Putin will pay a one-day working visit to Finland next week, at the invitation of President Sauli Niinistö. It’s the latest in a pattern of bilateral visits the pair have taken to each other’s countries, keeping lines of dialogue open even at moments in recent years when Russia and its leadership have been isolated on the international stage. The Finland visit also provides Putin with a brief distraction from problems at home, with tens of thousands of political protesters sparking a heavy-handed response from authorities. “The need for dialogue is widespread in Europe. That there has to not only be sanctions and not only confrontation, but also dialogue” says Professor Markku Kivinen from the Aleksanteri Institute at Helsinki University. Read more context and analysis of President Putin’s upcoming visit at our original story here.

Dozens of cows die in overnight barn fire 

An overnight fire at a farm in Iisalmi has completely destroyed a large barn, and killed up to 80 cows inside. Rescue crews got a call around 05:00 this morning and when they arrived on the scene the barn was already engulfed, and the barn roof had collapsed. There was a dangers the blaze would spread to another adjacent barn which also contained animals, but firefighters prevented this from happening. There were around 100 cows in the main barn at the time of the fire mostly dairy cows and young cattle with officials saying only about 10 to 20 were rescued. The cause of the fire is not known and this morning an investigation has started to determine the cause of the incident. Crews will stay at the farm until this evening still working to put out the last of the fire.

Marimekko increases profits

Textile and design company Marimekko is reporting an increase in profits today. The company says net profits rose from €27 million to €28 million in April to June compared with a year ago; while operating profits are up from €3.1 million to €3.7 million in April to June, year-on-year. According to the company retail sales continued to grow in Finland during the second quarter of 2019, and international sales are up 2% during this period. However sales in North America fell year-on-year. Marimekko President and CEO Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko says the company will invest significantly in growth during this year, and renewing their store network and investing in IT systems to strengthen Marimekko’s digital business.

Helsinki Festival begins today with anniversary events 

The annual Helsinki Festival gets underway today with the 30th anniversary Night of the Arts featuring the city as backdrop for hundreds of events. The festival is the largest arts event in Finland and last year attracted more than 236,000 visits. Some of the highlights of this year’s festival include a robot choir – where artificial intelligence has been taught how humans sing; international dance and ballet companies performing in the city; eclectic live music from world and local artists; and a visual arts exhibit showing incredible photographs of marine micro-organisms. It all begins on Thursday evening with hundreds of events around Helsinki. See the full programme here.

Thursday morning weather

There’s plenty of sunshine in the forecast this morning – but also plenty of cloud and some rain as well. The best of the sun on Thursday morning is in the capital city region and across the south east to Lappeenranta. You’ll find rain in the far north west around Kilpisjärvi. And everywhere else? Expect cloudy weather with glimpses of sun in Central Finland, in the south west and up the west coast from Turku to Kemi. Temperatures range from a cool +9C in Lapland to +14C in Åland this morning.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Thursday morning 15th August 2019 / Credit: FMI