Don’t Call It A Protest: Rally Draws Thousands To Helsinki Streets

Main Helsinki march attracted far fewer people than organisers hoped.

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A protester at 15th July's 'Helsinki Calling!' protest holds a sign saying "No uterus, no opinion" / Credit: Suvi Loponen

Several thousand people took to the streets of Helsinki today, ahead of a planned meeting of Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.

Police estimate some 2000 people turned up for a colourful and noisy rally that went from the city’s Kaisaniemi Park to Senate Square. It was one of ten planned protest events in the capital today.

Organisers say around 4000 people turned up, but that was far short of the 15,000 they had hoped for.

“Personally, I am disappointed” admits Radius Peltola, one of the organisers.

Helsinki’s Mayor Jan Vapaavuori (NCP) visited the rally and admitted he had been expecting a larger number of people.

“There is still a significant number of people today, but perhaps the heat and the holiday season have taken their toll” he said.

The temperature at the time of the protest march was around +30C.

Don’t Call It A Protest

The event was billed as ‘Helsinki Calling!’ and united a group of organisations supporting human rights, press freedoms, the environment and other causes.

In typically Finnish style, the gathering wasn’t against anyone or anything in particular. Instead, it was showing support for those issues where marchers think Trump and Putin have failed.

“Together, let us raise issues that Putin and Trump often seem to undermine through their actions, and about which they seem unwilling to speak” the organisers wrote on Facebook.

A number of Finnish politicians were present, as well as author Sofi Oksanen and entrepreneur Peter Vesterbacka.

Green Party member of parliament Ozan Yanar addressed the two leaders in an open letter on Sunday, ahead of the rally.

“Donald Trump represents a selfish policy that does not respect the rights of women or refugees, climate or free press […] During Vladimir Putin’s time in office, Russia has gone in a more authoritarian direction” he wrote.

Colourful Protest 

Many of the marchers at today’s Helsinki Calling! event made home-made signs, or wore costumes to get their point across.

“I am taking part today because Trump’s politics and policies are not demonstrating human rights” one attendee told News Now Finland.

“We are a small European country, and a very democratic country, and we see that there are a lot of global challenges today, and the world is not going in the right direction” said another woman at the event.

Other Protests Fizzle Out

Some of the other protests in Helsinki on Sunday were rather small.

Only 50 people showed up at a ‘Welcome Trump’ event, organised by the Finns Party Youth Wing.

“Trump’s immigration policy is pleasing to our members” said party official Liina Isto.