Anyone trying to move around the Finnish capital on Wednesday should be braced for road restrictions and security cordons all day – and into the early hours of Thursday morning – as Vladimir Putin pays a visit.
The Russian President will arrive in the middle of Wednesday for a visit hosted by President Sauli Niinistö, and even before his plane touches down, expect to see increased police activity along the airport road.
“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.
Extra officers are being drafted in from police departments around the country to help local law enforcement, although officials won’t say exactly how many officers are involved in Wednesday’s operation, citing security issues.
“It’s a very big operation and organisation effort which we have here with Helsinki Police, and we have a lot of help from other police units and authorities like the Border Guard” Kopperoinen tells News Now Finland.
Drone and flight restrictions in place
During his visit to Finland, President Putin will be having talks with President Niinistö at the Presidential Palace. On the agenda are bilateral relations between Finland and Russia, regional and international issues according to the President’s office.
Afterwards, there will be a joint press conference and later a dinner at Suomenlinna.
There’s a no-fly zone in the skies above the capital, and the usual no-drone zones around the Presidential Palace will be extended on Wednesday to also include the island fortress just off Helsinki’s coastline.
So how long will the disruption continue?
“I think it will be back to normal somewhere in the evening, but maybe later in the night could also be possible. We don’t know because we don’t know the exact timetable but the whole of Wednesday is very difficult to get to Helsinki” says Deputy Chief Kopperoinen.
Police say that if you’re planning to move around Helsinki on Wednesday to allow extra time for your journey.