President Putin visits Finland for talks
Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Helsinki today for a visit hosted by Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. Not too much has been revealed about the agenda beyond the diplomatic niceties of “bilateral relations”. After the talks there will be a press conference followed by dinner on Suomenlinna this evening. Members of Parliament have been calling on the President to bring up rule of law and democracy with Putin, after thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators were detained, some viciously beaten, by Moscow police recently. “Human rights and democracy must be boldly raised when Putin visits Helsinki today. The repression of recent peaceful demonstrations in Moscow is completely unacceptable” writes Left Alliance MP Veronika Honkasalo this morning. Read more about the political backdrop for Putin’s visit at our original story here.
Security headache for capital city residents during Putin’s visit
Local residents in Helsinki can expect almost a full day of security restrictions and road closures during a massive police operation during President Putin’s visit. Officers are being drafted in from police forces in other parts of the country to augment the capital’s cops. “The road from the airport to Helsinki is closed sometimes. Mannerheimintie is closed. Behind the President’s Palace and in front of it is closed. The Market Square has restrictions and the sea [harbour] area in front of the President’s Palace there are some restrictions too” explains Heikki Kopperoinen, Deputy Chief of Helsinki Police. Read more about where and when the police restrictions are in place at our story here.
Half of Finns oppose taking in rescued Mediterranean migrants
Almost half of people in Finland – 47% – oppose taking in rescued Mediterranean migrants. That’s according to a new poll out this morning in Rural Future newspaper. The survey asked more than a thousand people what their views were on accepting asylum seekers who had been rescued by ships as they tried to cross the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa to southern Europe. According to the newspaper more than a third of people supported the initiative but almost half did not. The Finnish government has recently agreed to take in more than a dozen people who were rescued at sea in the Med, and their claims for asylum will be processed as normal. Breaking the results down by political affiliation, most Finns Party and half of Centre Party supporters reject the idea of taking in rescued migrants; voters from the Greens, Swedish People’s Party and Left Alliance were most in favour of welcoming rescued Mediterranean migrants; while SDP voters were slightly more sympathetic to the idea than National Coalition Party supporters.
Police launch 24-hour speeding crackdown
Police across the country are making a special effort to monitor traffic speed today. Speed cameras are in use, as well as mobile patrols with a particular focus during morning commuter hours around schools and kindergartens. Officers say that they’re trying to affect the speed of cars during commuting hours, which tend to increase when the drivers are in a hurry – and that poses a danger around young people and schools.
UK pulls out of Finnish EU meetings
British Government Ministers, diplomats and other officials are set to stop attending EU meetings including events in Helsinki and Brussels organised by Finland during its Presidency of the European Council. Boris Johnson’s government made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon, saying that from 1st September Britain will only be represented at EU meetings “where the UK has a significant national interest in the outcome of discussions, such as on security.” It’s likely that Finnish officials don’t yet know which meetings the UK will attend, and which they won’t, however the British government has said that Finland will take the UK’s vote at EU meetings where there are no British officials present. Read more at our story here.
Wednesday morning weather
It’s a fine start to the weather for Wednesday morning across most of the country. The best of the sunshine is down the west coast from Vaasa through Rauma, Pori and down to Turku. There’s a chance of rain in parts of western Lapland but temperatures range from +9C in the north to 14C in Oulu, +15C in Central Finland and on the eastern border, +15C in Åland and +18C in Hanko this morning.