Helsinki braces for demonstrations – and counter-demonstrations

Many events, including political marches and a fireworks display, are scheduled for central Helsinki on Independence Day afternoon and evening. Police advise motorists to avoid the downtown area.

Helsinki police say they have been notified of around 10 marches and demonstrations in the city on Wednesday as the country celebrates the 100th anniversary of its independence - writes

The four largest events are scheduled for central Helsinki and the Hakaniemi and Töölö districts between 3 and 7 pm. They will cause traffic delays and detours, says Superintendent Juha Hakola of Helsinki Police.

"In previous years these events have attracted anywhere from a few hundred people to a few thousand. And we'll certainly be somewhere between that this time as well," Hakola tells Yle.

A group of neo-Nazis plan to gather on Narinkkatori square at 4 pm. The Nordic Resistance Movement, which was recently outlawed by Pirkanmaa District Court, is promoting a march on its website under the name "Kohti vapautta!" ("Toward Freedom"). It is to head up Mannerheimintie, past Töölö Sports Hall and on to the Mäntymäki field between Töölö Bay and the Olympic Stadium by around 6 pm.

Swedish neo-Nazis banned

Meanwhile some extreme nationalists are arranging the annual 612 torchlight procession, taking the name from the date of Finnish independence. In previous years, members of the Nordic Resistance Movement have also participated in the march. It is scheduled to leave at 6.30 pm from Töölö Square – about a kilometre from Mäntymäki. From Töölöntori, the procession will head toward the military cemetery at Hietaniemi in western Helsinki.

There may be fewer marchers than organisers expected, as a group of Swedish members of the Nordic Resistance Movement was blocked from boarding a ship sailing from Stockholm to Turku. They were planning to take part in the Helsinki marches, but were barred from the Viking Line ferry Amorella. Viking Lines communications director Johanna Boijer-Svahnström told Yle they were denied entry in order to ensure safety on board.

Children's event moved to stadium

Meanwhile a family event that was originally scheduled to take place at Töölö Square has been moved to the nearby Töölö football stadium for safety reasons.

Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori promised on Tuesday to improve communications to avoid such double booking of a public space for different events at the same time in future. He added that while he does not share the 612 marchers' values, they have a legal right to gather, as long as it occurs peacefully.

Leftists, anarchists and students

At the other end of the political spectrum, some self-described leftist youth and anarchists are arranging a counter-demonstration under the rubric "Helsinki Without Nazis". They are gathering on Hakaniemi Square at 3.15 pm before marching toward the city centre, ending up in the park by Hesperiankatu in Töölö.

Also marching through the downtown area will be the traditional university students' torchlight procession. It begins around 5 pm from Hietaniemi Cemetery along Mannerheimintie and the Esplanade to Senate Square, near the Presidential Palace.

Fireworks over the harbour

Streets will also be closed due to other events including the Independence Day Ball at the Presidential Palace, which begins around 7 pm, as well as fireworks over the South Harbour, scheduled for 10.15 pm.

Helsinki police advise motorists to avoid entering the city centre by car this afternoon or evening.

Yle will be streaming coverage of the various demonstrations and marches beginning at 3.30 pm on Yle Areena.

Read more news of Helsinki on our site.
Helsinkibracesfordemonstrations counter-demonstrations
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
3 views in january
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

The coach of a sports club in Hyvinkää, southern Finland has been remanded into police custody on suspicion of sexual abuse of minors he was coaching, the Itä-Uusimaa police department said on Thursday. Officials said that they are investigating the case as suspected child abuse but did not disclose the ages of the alleged victims. The suspect in the case, a 50-year-old man, was remanded into custody on Wednesday. The suspected sexual abuse is believed to...
Finns increasingly forego do-it-yourself construction of prefab elements in favour of completely completed homes. Turnkey homes (where homes are fully finished and owners can immediately occupy them) have become more popular than traditional house packages, says the Finnish Association for Manufacturers of Prefabricated Houses. “About 7,500 detached homes are built in Finland every year, and about 70 percent of them are prefabricated houses of some kind,”...
THE FESTIVE ATMOSPHERE in the Helsinki neighbourhood of Arabianranta was visibly subdued on Tuesday, as residents mourned the death of a local child who is believed to have been murdered. While little information has been released to the public, it is known that the victim was murdered near their home on the night of Christmas Eve (December 24). The police apprehended a suspect at the scene of the crime, who has been confirmed as a 36-year old male. Whethe...
One of Finland’s most famous seafaring vessels, the titanic icebreaker Otso, was deployed on its first mission of the winter season last night, keeping sea routes open for the 22nd year in a row. Late in the evening of Christmas Day, Otso, the crowning glory of Arctia Oy’s extensive fleet, departed from Helsinki’s Katajanokka Harbour, heading north to the Bay of Bothnia. The 7000-ton Polar icebreaker has been tasked with keeping waterways open between Oulu...
Eight Finnish political parties have published their a statement on future climate policy goals in Finland. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) in November invited all nine parliamentary parties to join a task force established to find an agreement on new, more ambitious climate goals for Finland. The one-month project was led by Kimmo Tiilikainen (Centre), the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing. The Finns Party abandoned the task force last w...
A 25-year-old man suspected of the sexual abuse of a girl under the age of 15 in Oulu, northwestern Finland, who was arrested in Germany last Tuesday is now reported to be at large. According to law enforcement officials in Oulu, the suspect was released by German police before he could be transferred to Finnish custody due to "a breakdown in communication between authorities". Oulu District Court ordered the suspect to be reprimanded into custody in absen...
Finland’s high earners saw their real income grow more in 2017 than their peers in middle and low income groups, according to new data released by Statistics Finland on Tuesday. Incomes among the country’s highest income decile rose by 4.4 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, while the year-on-year increase was 1.3 percent for middle income earners. Incomes for the four lowest income deciles meanwhile grew by 1.2 percent over the one-year period. However amon...
A man wanted in connection with a suspected arson attempt on a home in Helsinki’s Käpylä district was remanded into police custody on Sunday. The Helsinki district court has remanded a man suspected of attempted arson and attempted murder into police custody, ending a short-lived manhunt, police said on Sunday. The 25 year-old is suspected of using a Molotov cocktail to cause a fire at a flat in Käpylä, Helsinki last Monday. The apartment was completely de...
Helsinki Central Library Oodi will opened its doors to the public on 5 December at 8am, a day before Finland’s 101st birthday. Designed by ALA Architects, this library of a new era is an ode to Finnish culture, equality and freedom of expression. Oodi offers everyone an open, public urban space at Kansalaistori Square, right opposite Parliament House. Central Library Oodi is an active and functional meeting point with 2.5 million expected annual visitors....