Finnish police registered Russian President Vladimir Putin on its top secret black list. Putin was not suspected of any criminal wrongdoing in Finland, but his name had been recently entered into the Finnish National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) list of suspected criminals, sources told MTV3. The case got Finnish officials jumping with alarm. Finland’s National Police Board said Putin’s name ended up on the list “by mistake.” Police high command asked NBI to remove the entry, which was done immediately. Putin’s name was on the list because of his contacts to a Russian biker gang, the Night Wolves. Putin was thus suspected of contributing to the activities of a criminal organisation.
Finland’s National Police Commissioner Mikko Paatero said he was shocked to learn about the fact that Putin was on NBI’s list of suspected criminals. “I would have thought that something like this was impossible,” Mr Paatero told MTV3. Asked what message he would like to send to Putin, the Police Commissioner said he was “really sorry.”Finnish Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen was equally apologetic about the incident. “I wish to express my sincere apologies to Russian President Vladimir Putin for the mistake,” Ms Räsänen said in a press release. The minister assured that the case would be investigated thoroughly. She pointed out that leaking such confidential information was of great concern. Markku Kangaspuro, deputy director of Helsinki University’s Aleksanteri Institute, told Finnish tabloid Iltalehti that the incident was a “huge blunder.” He said the case should be investigated thoroughly and as openly as possible. “An innocent head of state has ended up on the list. […] This is quite an insult to any nation or head of state,” Mr Kangaspuro said. Kerkko Paananen, Chairman of the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (FINROSFORUM), regards the apologies to Putin as farcical. “Putin is responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in North Caucasus and in neighbouring Georgia. Under his rule, Russia has seen unprecedented levels of corruption and embezzlement of budget funds,” Mr Paananen noted. “Several political dissidents, human rights defenders, and businessmen have been jailed and assassinated in recent years in Russia. Harassment of civil society organisations and political opposition is increasing by the day throughout the country. These are crimes that should be of interest to Finnish authorities as well,” Mr Paananen stated. Mikael Storsjö, member of FINROSFORUM’s board, pointed out that war crimes and crimes against humanity constituted crimes under Finnish law irrespective of where the crimes had been committed. “Entering Putin into NBI’s blacklist was thus fully justified,” Mr Storsjö said. “The law cannot be different for Putin and Francois Bazaramba; selective justice is a foreign concept in Finland,” he stated.