Finland’s President, Sauli Niinistö, invited the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, for an official visit to his summer residence in the town of Naantali on 1 July 2016. A group of protesters from Finland, Ukraine, Syria, and Chechnya were there, with a message for those who received the leader of Moscow’s imperialist aggression.
The protesters marched through the centre of Naantali, chanting slogans such as “Putin is a war criminal,” “Send Putin to The Hague,” “Finland without Putin,” and “Putin besmirches the Fatherland.” They “greeted” the Russian despot with shouts of “shame” and “Putin, go away!”
For the protesters, it was important to show how many different nations, some far away from Russia’s borders, have fallen victim to Moscow’s wars of aggression. Putin’s Russia wages war both on its own peoples and several neighbouring nations, undermines the European security system based on international agreements, and commits systematic violations of human rights.
Kerkko Paananen, one of the coordinators of the demonstration, stated: “For me as a Finnish patriot, it is shameful to see an international war criminal welcomed by our president at his summer residence. This casts a shadow on those values that Finland defends as a free Western democracy. Putin’s rightful place is at the dock in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.”
Mikael Storsjö, another coordinator of the demonstration, was equally unhappy with Putin being invited to Finland. He stressed that it was important to show that there was a public opinion in Finland that strongly condemned Putin’s visit. “Putin should look at the mirror every morning and see what kind of a monster he really is,” Mr Storsjö said.
Gennady Naumov, member of the Ukrainian community in Finland, noted that Putin was responsible for multiple crimes both against the Ukrainian nation and against his own people. “Instead of being received at the Finnish President’s summer residence, he should be taken to a court like the one against Nazi war criminals after World War II,” Mr Naumov said.
Earlier, three members of the Finnish Anti-Fascist Committee — Antti-Pekka Mustonen, Kerkko Paananen, and Mikael Storsjö — and Russia expert Jukka Mallinen reported Putin to the police for war crimes, crimes against humanity, wars of aggression, mass murder, and deliberate killings of civilians. The activists asked police to arrest Putin. Sadly, they failed to do so.