Famous in India: Meet Finland’s fake government

These young women in an Instagram picture are said to be four of Finland's coalition government leaders, but they're obviously not!

Picture of four young women said to be Finland's government / Credit: Instagram

Many of the world’s leading publications have been reporting the news that Finland has a new young female prime minister in Sanna Marin (SDP).

Images of Marin being sworn in alongside Li Andersson (Left); Katri Kulmuni (Centre) and Maria Ohisalo (Green) – the fifth party leader Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP) was out of the country at the time – have been seen on the BBC, Sky News, New York Times, Vanity Fair, CNN and countless other international media outlets.

But in India, Finland’s new government is getting plenty of attention for all the wrong reasons.

A picture circulating on social media claims to show Marin, Kulmuni, Ohisalo and Andersson together in a group, and has become popular enough that the Times of India newspaper – which has a circulation of more than 2.6 million every day – had to fact check the story and flag it as a “FAKE ALERT”; while a Finnish ambassador also had to debunk the claim as well.

In some versions of the post the text compares the physical appearance of the ‘four Finnish politicians’ (sic) favourably with certain Indian female politicians.

However the picture is obviously not accurate.

It was originally uploaded to Instagram on 31st March 2019 by Nepalese social media celebrities, and twins, Deepa and Damanta; and shows them posing for the photograph alongside two other Nepalese social media stars Princy Khatiwada and her sister Prisma Khatiwada.

Between them the four women have almost 335,000 Instagram followers – while the four Finnish government ministers have 209,000 Instagram followers combined.

The image can be found thousands of times on social media sites, particularly in India, and while it’s sometimes been tagged with the #onlycomedy hashtag, it has usually been shared without any suggestion that it might be a comedy meme – and some Finnish diplomats wanted to make sure there was no confusion.

“Travlling in India, I have been told this photo is making big rounds in the social media right now, allegedly representing the four young party leaders and ministers of Finland” writes Ambassador Anna-Kaisa Heikkinen, the head of Finland’s Representative Office to Palestine in Ramallah.

Heikkinen posted the correct image of the five female party leaders in the Finnish government in case of doubt, and her tweet was also shared by Finland’s ambassador to India Ritva Koukku-Ronde.