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New fish species discovered in Baltic Sea

The "Baltic flounder" is the first fish found to be native only to the Baltic Sea.

Researchers at the University of Helsinki have named the first endemic fish discovered in the Baltic Sea. The Baltic flounder, Platichthys solemdali, is the only known fish species native to the Baltic Sea, said professor Juha Merilä from the university in a press release. According to the university, finding a new vertebrate in the Baltic Sea is significant, because the area has a scarcity of marine fauna and biological research has been conducted there for more than a century. Merilä said the Baltic flounder has not been recognised before as it appears to be nearly identical to the European flounder. Currently, the two species can be distinguished only with genetic methods, or by studying their eggs and sperm, he added. Whereas the Baltic flounder lays sinking eggs on the sea floor in coastal areas, the European flounder spawns buoyant eggs in deep areas in the open sea. In addition, the new species is more abundant in the Gulf of Finland that the European flounder, which is largely found in the central and southern Baltic Sea, the university said. According to the researchers, the process where the new species was formed occurred at a record speed, in just 2,400 generations, which is a short period in evolutionary time scales. Now that the new species has been formally described, the two flounders can officially be considered separate species. The Latin name of the new species is dedicated to the late Per Solemdal, who was the first researcher to study the flounder’s eggs and sperm in connection to salinity, the university said. The only other species native to the Baltic Sea is a brown algae, Fucus radicans.

Wed, 18 Jul 2018 11:23:00 +0300

Helsinki rail service changes as of Wednesday

Certain trains won't travel all the way to Helsinki Central Station, terminating service at Pasila Station instead.

There are changes to train services in Helsinki on Wednesday owing to track improvement work between the Pasila and Helsinki Central railway stations. Some I- and P-trains on the western branch of the ring rail line will not travel all the way to Helsinki, and will terminate at the Pasila station. Changes will also affect trains heading to the airport via Myyrmäki and those returning via Myyrmäki to Helsinki. The A- and L-trains will not stop at Ilmala station and the time between trains will increase to 30 minutes. Similar traffic changes took place on the main track for trains coming and going to Kerava, but those are now complete. According to Joona Packalén of HSL, the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority, travellers quickly got accustomed to temporary new schedules on the Kerava line while work was underway. He recommends those who use the P-, I-, L- and A-trains to be prepared and check the new schedule on HSL’s Journey Planner. Changes will be in place until 4 August 2018. More details including a handy chart are available in English at the HSL website.

Wed, 18 Jul 2018 10:12:01 +0300

Wednesday's papers: Summit security, Niinistö's relief and Finland's press freedom questioned

Wednesday's papers cover the huge security measures surrounding Monday's summit, president Niinistö's take on the meeting and question Finland's press freedom.

The aftermath of the Trump-Putin summit continues to dominate the press in Finland - and elsewhere too. Daily Helsingin Sanomat (HS) reports about the security arrangements surrounding the high-level meeting on Monday. The summit was one of the largest and most demanding police-led security operations in Finnish history, HS said, with the police only given two weeks to prepare for it. "The fact that the location of the meeting was uncertain for a long time created more challenges for us," said Heikki Kopperoinen, acting chief of Helsinki police. Thousands of people participated in the operation during the summit, with Finland’s all other police departments, the Defence Forces and the Finnish Transport Safety Agency sending staff to ensure the safety of the guests and residents while providing protesters an opportunity to express their views, according to the HS. In addition, dozens of people identified by the Finnish Security Intelligence Service were under surveillance ahead of the summit. Kopperoinen said the police observed and spoke to the persons considered “risky”, none of whom were part of any tight group. During the summit, about 25 protesters were detained in central Helsinki because they were suspected of trying to stop the motorcades on Mannerheimintie, HS said. Moreover, one journalist was removed from the joint press conference. “We did well on the whole,” Kopperoinen said. Press freedom questioned The reporter dragged out of the press conference tells his side of the story in The Nation. Sam Husseini, a contributor to the US political magazine, says he came to Helsinki to ask the presidents questions about the threat of nuclear weapons and to distribute an open letter about the need for secure elections and true national security. Husseini explains that over the years he has learned that asking leaders hard questions is difficult. “If government officials don’t like your questions, they just won’t call on you,” he says. That’s why Husseini said he decided to hold up a small piece of paper to draw Trump or Putin’s attention. Written on the paper was “NUCLEAR WEAPON BAN TREATY.” Husseini expected the security officers to either understand that the sign did not constitute a protest, or ask him to turn over the sign. He would have abided by that decision, Husseini said, but instead security officers “lunged for the sign, knocking my glasses to the floor and dragging me out of the hall.” The journalist said he was taken to a small room and told that Finnish law allowed for police to detain him for 24 hours without charge. He was denied access to his phone or other possessions, and had to relinquish his press badge, which he later got back. While on the way to a detention facility, Husseini said he hollered to onlookers: “This is freedom of press in Finland!” As a result, officers tackled him to the ground and cuffed him. Husseini said he was asked more questions at the detention facility and released around midnight. No charges were pressed against him. Niinistö relieved Meanwhile, tabloid Ilta-Sanomat describes Sauli Niinistö's sentiments after the summit. After hearing that both Trump and Putin had departed Finland on Monday night, the Finnish president said he had felt great relief that the rigmarole was over, according to a Facebook post. Niinistö said the whole undertaking had been successful because “Finns are trustworthy and take responsibility.” The paper reports that Niinistö had received several pleas to touch on transatlantic and European security issues, including the Ukraine and the Baltic Sea area, during the conversations with Trump and Putin. In particular, Niinistö said he recalls the words of a US senator who told him: ”You will be the last head of state who speaks to Trump before the summit with Putin. It’s on you.” According to Ilta-Sanomat, there were fears before the summit that things could go wrong. However, Niinistö is pleased that none of these fears materialised. “It was positive that there wasn’t anything negative,” he said.

Wed, 18 Jul 2018 09:39:16 +0300

Spotlight favours Helsinki in summit photo gallery

Peruse some of the photograph highlights from the summit where Trump and Putin met face-to-face.

On Monday 16 July Helsinki played host to the historic meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. The city and its numerous protesters were bathed in sunshine as thousands took to the streets to lend a voice to the conversations or simply cast a curious eye. Browse through the photo gallery to see the highlights of the day.

Tue, 17 Jul 2018 18:24:00 +0300

Woman drowns saving child at Vantaa swimming spot

There were some 1,000 people present at the time the woman drowned, along with lifeguards.

A 36-year-old woman drowned in Vantaa this morning after jumping into the water to save a child. The child was saved by a bystander and is in good physical health, but the woman was found dead after a search lasting for an hour at the Vetokannas swimming beach. According to initial observations from the fire and rescue service, the woman appeared to be a mother who jumped in to help her child and then got into difficulties. "The mother noticed the situation and went to save her child, got the child out of the water, held out the child to someone else and then drowned herself," said fire chief Ari Koivu. Lifeguards on the scene According to initial information from the police, the mother and child suddenly slipped beneath the surface, and a bystander from the beach managed to save the child. Police have launched an investigation to determine the cause of death. Vetokannas is a municipal swimming spot with a diving board and lifeguards, with water several metres deep in places. At the time of the drowning some 1,000 people were on the beach, according to Koivu. New figures show that July saw an uptick in the number of drownings in Finland's lakes and rivers, with some 13 people losing their lives in the water this month. In June only six people drowned, according to preliminary figures from the Finnish swimming and lifesaving federation. Since the start of the year 41 people have lost their lives in the water.

Tue, 17 Jul 2018 16:48:59 +0300

Russian media praises Trump-Putin summit success

Russian media say progress was made at the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, sharply contrasting American media outlets' critical take on what transpired.

Russian news organisations have applauded Vladimir Putin's summit with Donald Trump in Helsinki, lauding it as a diplomatic triumph for the ex-KGB agent. The Russian media establishment’s view sharply contrasts that of US media outlets, which have slammed the summit as disastrous for US foreign policy, as Donald Trump sided with Putin's view that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Russian president Vladimir Putin called Donald Trump a competent leader, with headlines calling out that: 'good results were reached,' 'Trump considers Putin a strong leader,' and that 'Russian annexation of Crimea is not off the table.' Russian daily Kommersant did, however, point out that the two leaders did not produce any kind of public statement. Russian news agency Tass writes that although the presidents seemed to get along, Trump is a prisoner of his own domestic politics, which is why the meeting won’t really affect US-Russian relations. Putin: Trump is a good leader In an exclusive interview with the Kremlin's go-to news outlet, Pervy Canal or Channel One, Putin said economic relations and the Syrian war came up in the meeting with Trump, and that Russia and the US are on track to reaching a solution of some kind in the war-torn state. A screenshot of Russia's Channel One news.Yle Uutisgrafiikka, lähde: Venäjän Ykköskanava In his version of events, Putin said any expectations he had for the meeting were surpassed as discussions with Trump progressed in a convivial spirit. Putin told the broadcaster that Trump was both a competent president and interesting discussion partner. "Many people just see him as a businessman, but he’s a politician—mainly because of his ability to listen to what the people want,” a smiling and confident Putin told the reporter. With regard to business links between the two superpowers, Putin spotlighted a high-level business working group that the presidents had brainstormed during their one-on-one.

Tue, 17 Jul 2018 16:20:09 +0300

Trump-Putin memes proliferate on social media around Helsinki summit

The meeting in Helsinki between US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin set social media alight at the start of the week.

Tue, 17 Jul 2018 15:48:31 +0300

Officials warn of heat wave risks - especially for the elderly

Studies have shown that on hot days mortality rates among the elderly can shoot up by more than 20 percent

With temperatures in Finland forecast to reach as high as 34C on Tuesday, the National Institute for Health and Welfare THL is reminding the public that hot weather is especially hard on people over the age of 75. A Finnish study published in 2014 found that hot weather increases deaths in this age group by up to 21 percent. It also found that the health impact of a heat wave is more pronounced among women than men. The effectiveness of the temperature-regulating system of the human body decreases with age. On hot days, the risk of death from hyperthermia, that is dangerously elevated body temperature, is significant for people with cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, neurological disorders and mental health problems. Statistically, living alone also increases the risk of heat-related death. Health officials say that during the heat wave Finland is currently experiencing, the residents of elderly care facilities are at especially high risk. In June, during the summer's first extended period of high summer temperatures, the THL issued a detailed advisory on the subject to care facilities nationwide. The air source heat pumps are hard at work keeping indoor air cool at the local healthcare centre in Kaavi, North Savo, right now. The building's south-facing windows have awnings to shade windows and there are table fans for work spaces and patients' rooms. "So far, it hasn't got too cool, though," laughs ward nurse Anita Paleologos. Staying hydrated Long periods of high temperatures are often also reflected in an upswing in emergency first-aid calls. Jouni Kurola of the Kuopio University Hospital points out that this can be caused by age as well. Feelings of thirst also decline with age. Mervi Riekkinen, one of the doctors at the Kaavi healthcare centre Kaavi, says she sees older patients suffering from dehydration from time to time. Often, this is simply because they forget to take fluids. "Nowadays you see a lot of people carrying bottles of water. Then there are those who don't know how to anticipate their needs," notes Riekkinen. The problem can be exacerbated by alcohol, which in excess causes dehydration. "Alcohol consumption has clearly increased," says Riekkinen.

Tue, 17 Jul 2018 13:35:35 +0300

What did the Helsinki Trump-Putin summit cost?

With the summit frenzy starting to fade, many Finns are starting to wonder who will foot the final bill for the meeting.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä on Tuesday said the government—that is the Finnish taxpayer—is absorbing all the costs of the meeting between presidents Trump and Putin. Sipilä remains tight-lipped on what the actual damage has been, but continues to praise the ”cheap” PR Finland gained for playing host. Foreign Minister Timo Soini, whose ministry ran the show, has echoed Sipilä’s views. The premier did not want to give an estimate of the final price tag to Finnish news agency STT, but he did reiterate that the event had served as an image builder for Finland. With both the US and Russia having brought massive delegations, and the world media in town accompanied by engineers and technicians, Helsinki’s hospitality and restaurant industry is assumed to have benefited greatly, according to city official Tommi Laitio. PR benefits worth costs? Juha Sipilä said the presence of 1,500 foreign journalists in Helsinki was an affordable way to export Finland’s image abroad. That said Finlandia Hall, which served as the international media press centre, was strategically turned into an attractive window on Finland. Between meetings journalists could nosh on Finnish cuisine and conveniently sit back in Marimekko-accented recliners to watch a reel promoting Finland as the best place on Earth. The looped film featured many aspects of the Finnish welfare state, from the now world-famous baby box to coding skills taught in Finnish schools. ASEM bill: 12 million euros The 2006 Asian-European ASEM meeting staged in Helsinki is the closest budgetary comparison to the Putin-Trump summit. That conference, which brought together 38 heads of state, raked up costs of 11.8 million euros, according to the City of Helsinki. But that was over a decade ago. Last month when Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met mano-a-mano in Singapore the BBC reported that the damage to the city-state was some 12.5 million euros. Here in Finland, police overtime--officers from Lapland were even sent down to the capital to reinforce the police presence--and other costs to secure the city will add to the government's final bill.

Tue, 17 Jul 2018 13:02:53 +0300

All Points North Podcast #19: The Trump–Putin special

This episode of APN is a summit package with everything you need to know about the meeting in Helsinki between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

This week All Points North returns from its summer hiatus for a very special episode on the Trump-Putin summit. This week's episode delves into the historic meeting that took place in Helsinki on 16 July between presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. In the wake of the summit we put our heads together to figure out just what exactly went on between the two superpowers during their meetings and what to expect now, after the extraordinary press conference which saw Trump rail against his political enemies rather than focus on international diplomacy. Helping us mull over the past few days and joining us on this episode is Finnish Institute of International Affairs researcher and US foreign policy expert Charly Salonius-Pasternak, who walks us through what impacts the summit may have on further diplomatic relations. We also hear what went on during the political circus in other parts of town as gatherings of both supporters and protesters took to the streets. Among the banners that bloomed on either side, topics such as human rights, climate change, and immigration policies were spotlighted, leaving us to deliberate whether or not these issues reached the top brass. If you have any questions or would like to share something on your mind just contact us via WhatsApp on +358 44 421 0909, on our Facebook page or Twitter account, or at yle.news@yle.fi. The All Points North podcast is a weekly look at what's going on in Finland. Subscribe via iTunes (and leave a review!), listen on Spotify and Yle Areena or find it on your favourite podcatching app or via our RSS feed. This week's show was presented by Egan Richardson, Zena Iovino and Eddy Hawkins with guest Charly Salonius-Pasternak. The show's producer was Lydia Taylerson, reporting was by Zena Iovino and Denise Wall and this week's sound technician was Marko Vierikko.

Tue, 17 Jul 2018 12:11:50 +0300

Tuesday's papers: Trump-Putin meeting, analysis and commentary

The Finnish newspaper press today looked at what happened in Helsinki on Monday, and what it may mean.

Commenting on Monday's meeting in Helsinki between the US and Russian presidents, the Tampere-based daily Aamulehti writes that "The meeting was an easy score for Putin". In an analysis by Minna Kurki on Monday's meeting in Helsinki between the US and Russian Presidents, the paper says that "...everybody won. A little. Vladimir Putin won really big." "It was as if Putin had enjoyed his World Cup as a main course and came to Helsinki for dessert. What was on offer was Donald Trump in a crystal bowl, and that did just fine," writes Kurki. The Aamulehti article points out that Putin did not arrive in Helsinki until after the meeting was to have started. The Russian president has made other leaders wait before, so this is easy to interpret as a slight. There were comments heard in advance that the meeting in and of itself would be a victory for Putin. According to Aamulehti, following Monday's press conference, it was a crushing victory. Kurki goes on to describe the performance of the two presidents at the press conference as the press conference as being comparable to watching an experienced and knowledgeable building master and an apprentice painter. Even so, she argues that the meeting was a victory of sorts for Trump as well in some circles. His comments on the damage done by investigations into collusion with the Russians in the last US presidential election was a message to his supporters. This commentator notes that no significant agreements came out of the meeting, but then none were really expected. "World peace can also be counted among the winners, or at least the hope of world peace. Trump stated that the first steps were taken toward a brighter future. Only the future will tell where those steps will really lead. No one should maybe hold their breath." Finland's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat turned for comment to Mika Aaltola, a global security expert at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Aaltola described the Trump-Putin meeting as a positive development and a good starting point for dealing with issues such as the situation in Syria, nuclear disarmament and anti-terrorism measures. "The worst fears did not come to pass," he told HS. As for the question of who was the winner and who the loser, according to Aaltola, it was Putin, who got to bask in the spotlight and achieve some improvements in the position Russia has been in since its occupation of Crimea. Trump and Putin expressed totally differing views on the occupation of Crimea, but says Helsingin Sanomat, this did not apparently spoil the positive atmosphere of the meeting. Aaltola added that Trump took a major risk in terms of domestic politics, as many Americans do not look favourably upon him appearing side by side with the Russian president in such a friendly setting. Finland's main Swedish-language daily, Hufvudstadsbladet, today headlines an analysis by writer Anna-Lena Laurén in which she says that following their talks, neither Trump nor Putin seemed particularly comfortable with the situation - starting their press conference, Trump wrinkled his brow and Putin had his usual sphinx-like air. Laurén points out that little, if anything concrete was achieved. Prior to the meeting, she notes, many had speculated that Putin would try to get Trump to lift sanctions against Russia. This didn't happen, nor did he announce that he intends to recognize Russia's takeover of Crimea or that Russia intends to stop arranging military exercises in the Baltic Sea. The only thing that was agreed upon was to set up an expert body to look at how to improve Russian-American relations. This kind of advice, says Hufvudstadsbladet's analyst, is easy to come up with and is not legally binding - but looks good on a symbolic level. "The summit between Putin and Trump can be summarized in a similar way," Hufvudstadsbladet tells its readers What did Finland gain? Turun Sanomat carries a Finnish News Agency STT review of comments to the media interview from Finnish Foreign Minister who said he was satisfied with the US-Russian meeting, but seemingly not very impressed by the outcome. "No earthshaking common understanding was expected from the meeting, but the worst fears and speculation lost their meaning," he said. If the meeting leads to some concrete results, Soini believes that those may be seen in nuclear arms controls. The choice of Helsinki as the venue, said Soini, proves that Finland has successfully built up good relations with both great powers. "This did not happen by accident," Soini pointed out. As for the image Finland projected, the Foreign Minister added, "Finland is considered, and Finland is a part of the West. For us, Finlandization is only a painful memory. It was a time of political degradation of which there are no longer any signs, stated Soini. In Helsingin Sanomat, columnist Marko Junkkari writes that while the Trump-Putin meeting brought Finland a lot of attention it did not as such change the nation's status in the world. "So what does [the world] think of us? The answer is comforting: nothing. Or, more precisely nothing necessarily new." Junkkari does, however, argue that there was a risk involved in hosting the Trump-Putin meeting. Global politics have become unpredictable, and no one had a clear image of what the two presidents would discuss in Finland. The scariest scenario was that the two would make deals affecting the fate of Europeans. This concern did not arise out of nothing. Donald Trump carried out a week-long European tour criticizing the United State's closest allies. The HS columnist also points to a number of articles publish in the international media before Monday's gathering that portrayed Finland as being in some sort of grey zone between East and West. "It's not like that. Not any more." Junkkari echoed a message that President Sauli Niinistö presented to the world press on Monday. "Finland is a member of the EU and clearly belongs in the western values community. Finland is a militarily non-aligned country which cooperates with Nato and maintains its possibility of joining Nato. Finland is thus not a neutral country." HS says that Finland's place in the world nowadays is clear, and hosting the Trump-Putin meeting doesn't change it. The measure of a man Many commentators and analysts are today pondering who came out of Monday's meeting the "bigger man". The Helsinki tabloid Ilta-Sanomat approached this by asking the question, "Who had the longest motorcade?" Both presidents had a large entourage and multiple vehicles to get everyone around town. The paper presents its readers with a graphic comparison of the two motorcades. The winner was President Trump. With an escort of two Finnish police motorcycles and 33 limos, cars and vans, his was longer than Vladimir Putin's. In Helsinki, at least.

Tue, 17 Jul 2018 09:41:29 +0300

"No collusion": Russian election interference claims overshadow Trump-Putin summit

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin presented a united front on the question of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election and tamped down talk of collusion.

Speaking during a joint press conference following a landmark meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday afternoon, US President Donald Trump once more sought to reassure friends and foes that Russia did not meddle in the US election of 2016. According to Trump, the pair “spoke of Russian interference in the election. “We spent a great deal of time talking about it. Putin also felt strongly about it and has an interesting idea,” Trump told a gaggle of international journalists, without however elaborating on the idea. Asked by a Reuters journalist whether he did indeed attempt to hold Putin and Russia accountable for anything related to the claims of interference, Trump doubled down on his defence. “There was no collusion, everybody knows it. …It was a clean campaign. I beat Hillary Clinton easily. It’s a shame that there could even be a bit of a cloud over it,” the US president insisted. “The probe is a disaster for our country. There was no collusion, everybody knows it. It was a clean campaign. There was zero collusion. This [probe] has had an impact on the relationship between the two largest nuclear powers in the world,” he said a third time. “There was no collusion. I didn’t know the president; there was nobody to collude with,” Trump continued in a long answer, referring to the probe into the suspicions of election interference by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Putin: "It's nonsense" Putin also relayed the same message, both in his prepared remarks at the beginning of the press conference and later when taking questions from pool journalists. “On the so-called interference of Russia in US elections, I reiterated what I said several times. The Russian state has never interfered and will never interfere in the internal workings of the US state,” he said early in the proceedings, adding that both sides could look at the issue via a joint working group on cybersecurity. During his turn to respond to the question of Russian accountability for the alleged election meddling, Putin responded cryptically, “Where did you get the idea that President Trump trusts me or that I trust him? He defends the interest of the USA and I defend the interests of Russia. We are looking for areas where we can cooperate.” “We should be guided by facts. Can you name any facts that definitively prove collusion? It’s nonsense!” he continued. 12 Indictments The leaders’ unified front on the issue is follows the indictment last Friday of 12 Russians suspected of meddling in the 2016 election. Their denials are consistent with their previous statements on the issue, with Trump saying in the past that he accepted Putin’s denial of involvement. US allies and political analysts were concerned about what would happen when novitiate Trump came up against Putin, a seasoned politician backed by a long career as an intelligence officer. The men met with no staffers, handlers or foreign policy advisors. A one-on-one meeting between the two men went on for more than two hours rather than the scheduled 90 minutes. President Trump had previously said that he was going into the meeting with “low expectations.” On Saturday, he indicated to the US television network CBS that he had no clear goals going into the meeting. Asked by the network whether he would ask Putin to hand over 12 Russians indicted for suspected interference in the 2016 general election, the US president said he might. However there is no extradition treaty between the two countries. The final question of the press conference asked Vladimir Putin whether Russia had compromising material on Donald Trump. Putin did not deny that such material exists, only saying that he did not know who Trump was when he visited Moscow.

Mon, 16 Jul 2018 19:18:58 +0300

2018 high temperature of 32.2 degrees recorded in Turku

The Finnish Meteorological Institute issued an intense heat warning for southern Finland on Monday.

This summer’s highest temperature so far was recorded on Monday afternoon in Turku, where the mercury climbed to 32.2 degrees Celsius. The previous heat record was just from yesterday when 31.2 degrees were measured in the south-western town of Pori. Meteorologist Joonas Koskela from Yle says it is likely that even higher temperatures could be seen later this week. ”Warm air is stuck above Finland and winds are quite weak. The heat is here to stay for a while,” Koskela says. The Finnish Meteorological Institute issued an intense heat warning for southern Finland on Monday and the warning will likely be expanded to cover the rest of the country later this week, Koskela adds. Intense heat warnings are given when daytime highs soar to 30 degrees and the average temperature over a 24-hour period does not fall below 24 degrees. So called tropical nights, when the temperature remains at or above 20 degrees are possible this week, especially on the southern coast and in the vicinity of lakes, Koskela says. However, some relief is expected towards the weekend when rain and thunder storms are likely to pound western and northern Finland. ”In some areas, rains could be very heavy, up to 10 millimeters,” Koskela says.

Mon, 16 Jul 2018 17:57:30 +0300

Climate activists send message to Trump and Putin: "Warm our hearts not our planet"

Greenpeace Nordic activists in cooperation with Helsinki’s Kallio church unfurled two large banners this morning carrying a strong environmental message.

Monday's summit between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump brought a host of protesters onto the streets, and political messages onto several Helsinki buildings. One of the most prominent adorned Kallio church, east of the city centre. "The world’s eyes are on Helsinki and we’re calling for action to combat climate change, which is the responsibility of political leaders,” says Laura Meller, a campaigner at Greenpeace Nordic, who is part of the banner project. According to Greenpeace, the banners were unravelled just before 11 am on Monday morning and will be taken down in the afternoon. Greenpeace suggested the cooperation with the Kallio parish shortly after it became public knowledge that the presidents of the US and Russia would be meeting in Helsinki on 16 July. ”Warm our hearts not our planet” is intended as a message to American president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin in an attempt to get environmental issues onto the agenda. Goal: Message of hope Affixing the banners took six climbers wearing harnesses, secured by four people. Finns, Danes, Germans and Brits were involved in the operation. ”Owing to the Helsinki meeting, attention is being paid to Helsinki right now, and we wanted to bring a message of hope amidst all the different messages,” says Kallio church pastor Visa Viljamaa, referring to other banners adorning the city during the Helsinki meeting. According to Viljamaa, the Kallio parish doesn’t have a specific stance on the Helsinki meeting. ”There are many opinions within the parish and the congregation. Nevertheless, environmental issues are important to people in the Kallio neighbourhood,” says Viljamaa. The rapidly-gentrifying Kallio district is home to large numbers of independent cafes, students and a population that tends to vote in large numbers for green and leftist candidates. The Kallio Lutheran church initiated a campaign of ringing its church bells during the end of 2016 in remembrance of the victims of Russian and Syrian bombing of beseiged rebel-held parts of Aleppo. Two hundred churches in Finland took part in the initiative, which spread to countries including Britain, United States, and Australia.

Mon, 16 Jul 2018 17:03:17 +0300

Police: Summit day turning out as planned

Helsinki Police Superintendent Pekka Höök told Yle Monday afternoon that despite the scale of the Trump-Putin summit, police have faced few surprises.

"For the police, the day has gone according to plan. Even morning traffic moved along nicely. People listened to [our] advice and apparently left their cars at home," Superintendent Höök Yle Monday afternoon. Rail traffic was, however, briefly at a standstill in the capital Monday morning due to a technical systems fault. "That's something we didn't wish for, but in the end, not even that caused major delays,” Höök pointed out. Not the first time Routes traveled by presidential motorcades were lined by thousands of people during the day, but police have yet to issue an estimate of how many turned out to catch a glimpse of Trump and Putin passing by. Various demonstrations took place in a spirit of what Superintendent Höök described as "good understanding" with the authorities. "The police always have advance contact with protest organizers, negotiate about the routes of marches and the demonstrations themselves. The demonstrations have come off as planned," Höök explained. Monday was a major challenge for Helsinki's police department, but Höök and his fellow officers have taken it all in stride. "This is not the first time that a big event has been arrange in Finland," he pointed out.

Mon, 16 Jul 2018 16:16:08 +0300

Melania Trump foregoes Finnish fashion, so far

The US first lady and her Finnish counterpart Jenni Haukio had both chosen butterfly-themed outfits.

Melania Trump, the first lady of the United States, has stuck to international luxury brands during her and her husband’s visit to Finland, at least until now. To the disappointment of Finnish clothing designers, Melania had chosen a light yellow coat dress by Gucci, the Italian luxury brand, and a matching butterfly belt, for the meeting with Finland’s first lady, Jenni Haukio, on Monday morning. Meanwhile, Haukio had picked a light butterfly-patterned dress by Andiata and pumps by Ril’s, both Finnish labels. It is not known what the butterfly buddies discussed over breakfast but the insect habitat may have been one topic as Haukio was seen pointing towards the garden during her conversation with Mrs Trump. It also remains unknown what Mrs Trump will undertake while her husband meets Russian president Vladimir Putin. To escape the scorching heat, she might consider a dip in the Baltic Sea in Finnish bikinis. She just needs to watch out for the algae. Fashion choices matter According to tabloid Iltalehti, the Finnish Embassy in Washington D.C. had suggested a number of Finnish brands to Mrs Trump. To no avail, it seems. On landing in Helsinki on Sunday evening, Melania was photographed disembarking the Air Force One in brown Ralph Lauren leather leggings and a grey coat by US designer Kate Brierley. Story continues after photograph Melania and Donald Trump arrive in Helsinki on 15 July 2018.Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva Pirjo Suhonen from Finnish designer label Ivana Helsinki says the clothing choices of influential people, such as the British or Swedish royal family, have implications for the brand names. ”If Kate Middleton wears a dress of a certain label, it will be sold out in no time.” During her visits abroad Mrs Trump has favoured the local labels. For example, in France, the former model was dressed in Chanel and in the UK last week she sported a dress by Victoria Beckham. Mrs Trump has also been criticised for her sartorial decisions. Last month, her choice to wear a Zara coat with the text "I really don't care. Do U?" to visit migrant children at the Texas-Mexico border was largely condemned as tasteless. Melania Trump and Jenni Haukio pictured in matching butterfly attire.Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva

Mon, 16 Jul 2018 14:13:34 +0300

Foreign journalists praise 'epic' freebies at Trump-Putin media centre

International reporters covering the Helsinki meeting are impressed by the media centre's spread which runs the gamut from fresh strawberries to sauna.

The close to 1,500 journalists covering the Trump-Putin summit often work around the clock, and many are accustomed to media centres offering little more than WiFi and coffee and water. The Finnish Foreign Ministry has made great efforts this time to leave a positive impression on journalists in Finland for the meeting, sourcing Finnish design, food, experts, beer and even sauna for their media guests. The international reporters and photographers in town to cover the Helsinki meeting have expressed surprise and gratitude for the work space, food, drinks, and events on offer at the media centre headquartered at Finlandia Hall. The Washington Post’s Anton Troianovski and Greg Miller are enjoying fresh strawberries and peas at the media centre. ”These are incredibly delicious,” says Miller, to which Troianovski nods in agreement. Organisers even set up a makeshift sauna in the grounds of the Helsinki media centre.Retu Liikanen / Yle ”They’ve really done incredible work,” says Miller, referring to the press centre. ”Everything works incredibly smoothly from media accreditation, to the working spaces, and getting around the city,” says the Washington Post’s national security correspondent Miller. The meeting between the American and Russian presidents in Helsinki was only announced a little over two weeks ago. Hillary Gallaschin, who works for the German public broadcasting company ARD, says ”This ranks well with other large scale summits that I’ve attended,” says Gallasch. Both the Washington Post’s Miller and ARD’s Gallasch have covered numerous top international political summits and meetings. Gallasch was in Singapore when the leaders of the US and North Korea met. She has also reported on numerous G-7 and G-20 international summits. Miller and Gallasch say that at press centres usually journalists are offered space to work and mostly just water and coffee. As work is done around the clock, it’s very important to eat, too. "This is very exceptional. Right now there’s strawberries and peas on offer,” says Gallasch, as she helps herself to more. Key broadcast connections work Sitting on the terrace adjacent to the pop-up sauna brought in for the event, Friedrich Schmidt, the Moscow correspondent of German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, characterises the media assistance as very professional. ”The staff is always ready to help. There’s food on offer, which is something that I’m not used too – and it’s tasty, which is a bonus,” says Schmidt. He adds by way of comparison that at the Minsk meeting on Ukraine in February 2015, the food ran out in the middle of the conference. Although Schmidt says he appreciates the food, the most important aspect for him is that the internet and broadcasting connections work seamlessly and staff are helpful when there’s a problem. Another Die Zeit reporter, Alice Bota, also says she values the fact that she’s received help to problems quickly. ”Especially since there was such a short time to prepare for this event, everything has gone incredibly smoothly,” says Bota. Neither was interested in trying out the pop-up sauna in front of Finlandia Hall, as the mercury soared to +30 degrees Celsius this week. ”It’s too hot. I’d rather go swimming,” says Schmidt. Perhaps the best endorsement so far came from Moscow correspondent for The Guardian, Andrew Roth, who tweeted: "Pro-tip: hold your next summit in Finland #Helsinki2018 press centre has free food, free WiFi, free travel cards, free tote bags, FREE BEER, free G&Ts and live-streamed the World Cup Final on a massive screen. There's even a fellow who just tells you about Finnish design. Epic."

Mon, 16 Jul 2018 13:38:21 +0300

Oksanen: Trump, Putin benefit from weak Europe

Finnish-Estonian author Sofi Oksanen believes Trump and Putin want to undermine Europe.

Helsinki was abuzz with demonstrators on Sunday, with crowds gathering to proclaim support for and opposition to the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump on Monday. Sofi Oksanen, an award-winning Finnish-Estonian author who has played on themes of women in Estonia during and after the Soviet period, was among those who spoke at one of the main demonstrations in Helsinki. "It seems both Trump and Putin want to make Europe as weak as possible," Oksanen told Yle News at the Helsinki Calling demonstration in Helsinki’s Senate Square on Sunday. Oksanen recently wrote in the Guardian, "Finland was a psychological laboratory for the reach of Soviet power, a place where Moscow could conveniently study the impacts of reflexive control– in which a subject is led to take a certain decision by controlling of the information they receive." Referring to alleged Russian meddling in US elections, Oksanen said Russia used this method to help Donald Trump win the presidency. At the Helsinki Calling rally, Oksanen said Finland’s bilateral trade with the Soviet Union played a crucial role in Finlandisation, and that lucrative trade deals today are a cause for alarm. "Trump and Putin are offering different kinds of bilateral deals to make cracks in the European Union," Oksanen told Yle News. According to the Finnish-Estonian novelist, Finlandisation served Moscow’s agenda well during the cold war, as it created the impression that the Soviet Union could peacefully share a border with Finland, a Nordic democracy. "Trump’s government’s interests are not Finland's interests, quite simply," Oksanen told Yle News.

Mon, 16 Jul 2018 12:46:25 +0300

Finns Party backers praise Trump’s immigration policy

Not everyone on the streets of Helsinki is demonstrating against the meeting between Putin and Trump.

Police in Helsinki announced they were notified of more than ten demonstrations ahead of Monday’s meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Many were opposed to the two presidents, but there were also a few people on the streets showing their support for the US leader. Liina Isto, a deputy chair of the Finns party’s youth arm, said US President Donald Trump’s policies appeal to her party, particularly the administration’s stance on immigration, including the zero-tolerance immigration policy which has separated thousands of migrant children from their parents. “We are celebrating the fact that Mr Trump is coming to Finland, so we want to say that his policies are something that please us,” Isto told Yle News at the Finns Party “Welcome Trump” rally in Helsinki’s Narinkkatori in Kamppi on Sunday. Isto says her party would like to borrow a page out of Trump’s immigration policy playbook in Finland. Story continues after the photo. Liina Isto, deputy chair of Finns Party Youth Wing.Yle/Zena Iovino “Well I don’t really see that [families would be broken apart in Finland] because the people that are coming here are mostly men who travel alone, so there are not many families that come here,” Isto told Yle News, adding that “we have to have some type of border control so that we actually know who’s coming here.” "A president we should have" Some 50 people turned up at the “Welcome Trump” rally which also featured Trump-inspired merchandise, including baseball caps calling to “Make Finland Great Again.” Aleksi Niskanen, a Finns’ Party parliamentary aide, was purchasing one of these caps and brushed off the presence of the anti-immigration Soldiers of Odin, who were wearing t-shirts adorned with a symbol of a Viking and a Finnish flag. Story continues after the photo. Participants at the "Welcome Trump" rally in Soldiers of Odin t-shirts.Yle/Zena Iovino “As long as people aren’t committing any crime, they have the right to be present...If we make any adjustments to restricting people it is a shift towards totalitarian order,” he said. Helsinki-resident Kristiina Eskola praised Trump for what she said were his patriotic qualities. “He is a president we should have in Finland,” she said. Meanwhile Finnish-Kurdish Anteri Asha, a former Finns Party member, said he turned up because he said he believes the Finns Party is the only party in Finland that facilitates a critical discourse of Islam. “As a refugee in this country, I criticize ISIS, all kinds of extremism.” “When real dictators come to Finland, like Erdogan of Turkey,” people do not really protest, Asha added. The Helsinki Calling demonstration strongly criticising Trump’s immigration policies was meanwhile going on a few blocks away. “I do believe that everyone has the right to voice their own opinion and that’s freedom of speech so I definitely think that’s a good thing that people can express themselves,” Isto said, adding that, in her opinion, most news outlets in Finland are left-leaning.

Mon, 16 Jul 2018 12:18:29 +0300

Helsinki regional trains delayed by electrical faults

Delays on the Helsinki rail network are expected to continue into the afternoon

Commuters have been warned to avoid rail travel in the capital city area as the Helsinki Region Transport HSL says there are major delays and cancellations hitting the tracks. The disruptions are due to a power failure that occurred on Monday morning and affect commuter rail services across the capital region. According to HSL the K, E, A and Y trains have been cancelled. The I and P lines serving the airport are running every 20 minutes, down from their usual 10 minute frequency, while the R, U, Z and X train timetables are gradually returning to their regular schedules. HSL warns that some disruptions may continue into the afternoon.

Mon, 16 Jul 2018 10:45:11 +0300

Monday's papers: Focus on the Trump-Putin summit

Not surprisingly, the Finnish newspaper press today is filled with news of the meeting between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Monday morning, the Finnish media was providing readers with details of the arrival of President Trump on Sunday evening, and lots of speculation about what the summit may, or may not achieve. The newsstand tabloid Ilta-Sanomat explains to its readers that there are five reasons that the Trump-Putin meeting today is so important. The paper notes that although the experts do not expect concrete action to come out of the summit, the meeting still has significance for world peace. It quotes the head of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Teija Tiilikainen, as saying that there is a crucial need for dialogue between these great powers. Tiilikainen's list of reasons why this summit is so important starts off with the expectation that it will strengthen security for the whole world. It is, she says, an opening in relations between the two countries that are at odds over so many issues. The need to address the strained relations between Russia and the USA is the second reason on her list, followed by the sensible idea that the leaders of the two nations should be on speaking terms. According to Tiilikainen, this is important for Finland and other small nations, "Otherwise the risks are too great. When there are conflicts and differing views, but no functioning dialogue, it feeds negative images of the other". The world is changing, and global power arrangements are realigning. US dominance is being challenged. For this reason as well, Tiilikainen points out, The US needs to be on better terms with Russia. And, the final point Teija Tiilikainen makes to Ilta-Sanomat is that there need to be a mechanism to prevent the escalation of military tensions. An example she gives is the important role that arms limitation talks have in relations between these two nuclear powers. A ”new Yalta”? The nation's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat lists the issues it assumes will be on the summit agenda as being Ukraine, Syria and Russian interference in US elections. This paper turned to two international experts for commentary: American foreign policy analyst and former US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, and Heather Conley director of the Europe Program at Center for Strategic &International Studies. Talbott told the paper that in his view, there could be no better host for today's summit than Finland, saying that Finland is an important security policy and ideological partner for the United States in a region where Russia behaves in a defiant manner. Conley's analysis is that this summit has been arranged because Trump wanted to meet Putin. "He believes that a personal relationship is enough to solve problems," she told HS. In its Sunday edition, Helsingin Sanomat published an English-language open letter to Trump and Putin from two of its journalists, columnist Saska Saarikoski and the paper's US correspondent Laura Saarikoski. While taking a welcoming note, it also expressed concern that the US and Russia may bypass Europeans in decisions that most affect Europe. "As the summit nears, there have been warnings that the US may make real concessions in exchange for a bit of glib publicity and empty promises. Some have even raised the specter of a new Yalta where Trump and Putin would divide the world between them in spheres of influence. This worry shows the kind of dread the inconsistent policy of the United States has caused. Hopefully everyone will nevertheless understand that European matters can no longer be agreed on over the heads of Europeans." Trump, Niinistö and the Baltics Iltalehti writes that the agenda at a breakfast meeting between Trump and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö this morning is expected to include the topic of military exercises in the Baltic region. Trump's official programme starts with breakfast and discussions at the president's residence of Mäntyniemi. Last week, President Niinistö said that he intends to bring up the Baltic exercises issue with Trump. According to this paper, it was unclear from Trump's remarks in Brussels last week if he plans to discuss a possible end to these exercises with Putin, as well. Other matters of interest that Iltalehti expects the Trump-Putin talks to touch upon are Syria, Ukraine, disarmament and Russian "influence" in US elections. Last week, Niinistö noted Trump's comments on the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline project, and told the media that this is also a topic that would be worthwhile covering in his meeting with the US president. Pampering the press Turun Sanomat carries a STT Finnish News Agency report from Finlandia Hall, the site of the press centre in Helsinki for journalists covering today's summit. It reports that as of Sunday evening, the press centre was for the most part still relaxed, and with tables groaning under the weight of complimentary food: Karelian pasties, strawberries, fresh peas, sweet rolls and blueberry pie. The media has also been provided with sauna facilities that have been set up in the courtyard. Vesa Häkkinen of the Foreign Ministry's press department estimates that there are some 1700 to 1800 journalists in Helsinki to cover the Trump-Putin summit. Work and break spaces in Finlandia Hall have been decked out with Finnish design products. The journalists have free use of Helsinki's public transport system. Where to catch a glimpse Coverage in the tabloid Iltalehti includes advice for anyone in the Finnish capital today about where they may be able to catch a glimpse of one or more of the presidents. Helsinki police say that the best spots to observe the motorcades are on the Esplanade not far from the Presidential Palace, from the steps of Parliament on Mannerheimintie, and from the hill of Tähtitorninmäki. The paper also reminds local residents that the use of balconies is restricts along the routes of the motorcades. The Helsinki officer in charge of security arrangements adds that it’s not even a good idea to watch from windows overlooking the routes. Iltalehti provides a map marked with the best sites for celebrity watchers to hang out today.

Mon, 16 Jul 2018 09:42:33 +0300

Trump arrives in Helsinki ahead of summit with Putin

American President Donald Trump has arrived in Helsinki ahead of a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

Air Force One touched down at Helsinki Airport at 20:55 on Sunday evening carrying US President Donald Trump ahead of a historic planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was greeted by the US Ambassador to Finland, Robert Pence, before travelling to his overnight lodgings. Trump arrived with his wife, First Lady Melania Trump and a host of other dignitaries, including White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Deputy Chief of Staff Zack Fuentes, National Security Advisor John Bolton and his chief of staff Fred Fleitz; Policy Advisor Stephen Miller; Social Media Director Dan Scavino; Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and new communications director hire Bill Shine, formerly of Fox News. Melania Trump's staffers, Lindsay Reynolds and Stephanie Grisham are also part of the retinue. On Monday host President Sauli Niinistö is scheduled to meet Trump in the morning before Trump and Putin sit down to a bilateral meeting first without aides and then with their teams of support staff.

Sun, 15 Jul 2018 21:12:53 +0300

Trump: "Low expectations" ahead of Helsinki meeting with Putin

US President Donald Trump told CBS that he will ask Vladimir Putin to hand over 12 Russians charged with alleged interference in the 2016 election.

Speaking with the US network CBS in Scotland on Saturday as he wound up the UK leg of his Europe tour, US President Donald Trump said that he was not going into talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin with high expectations. When CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor asked about his goals for the meeting, Trump responded, "I'll let you know after the meeting,” adding that "nothing bad" would come of the face-to-face talks. Trump professed confidence in the meeting and pointed to previous encounters with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Chinese President Xi Jinping as examples. In the interview Trump told CBS that he had not thought about asking Putin to hand over the 12 Russians indicted for alleged interference in the US elections of 2016. But when pressed on the question, he said he might. "Well, I might," the US president said. "I hadn't thought of that. But I certainly, I'll be asking about it. But again, this was during the Obama administration. They were doing whatever it was during the Obama administration," he added, echoing previous tweets on the matter. Russia has no extradition treaty with the United States, however. On Friday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictments, marking a significant milestone in the ongoing probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russia’s alleged efforts to interfere in the general election.

Sun, 15 Jul 2018 19:33:24 +0300

Live updates: Donald Trump meets Vladimir Putin in Helsinki

The Presidents of Russia and Finland meet on Monday in the Finnish capital. Follow this blog for all the latest news on the meeting.

Sun, 15 Jul 2018 16:09:28 +0300

Environmental agency: Nearly entire Gulf of Finland overrun with blue-green algae

The algal blooms have also invaded many inland lakes and researchers say the situation will only improve in August.

Almost the entire Gulf of Finland has been infested with cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, according to monitoring information obtained by the Finnish Environment Institute, SYKE. Senior researcher Seppo Knuutila described the situation as exceptional. “This hasn’t happened this decade,” he told Yle in an interview Saturday. According to SYKE the algae has also made substantial incursions into inland water bodies. Knuutila said that the current situation in the Gulf of Finland is the result of heavy phosphorous concentrations that came from the deep sea basin of the Baltic Sea in autumn 2016. He added that The Baltic has extensive oxygen-poor areas where phosphorous is being released. Story continues after photo. Cyanobacteria at Tuusulanjärvi on 11 July.Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva “When there is a lot of phosphorous and we get this kind of heat, it creates an ideal environment for blue-green algae,” the researcher added. With current tropical conditions set to continue for another week, the situation is not likely to improve before the end of July or early August. The agency has warned holidaymakers against venturing into waters tainted with the blooms as they may cause skin and eye irritation. People should also avoid using algae-infested water for the sauna, for washing dishes or for watering plants.

Sun, 15 Jul 2018 15:21:35 +0300

Watch: Demonstrators rally ahead of Trump's arrival in Finland

The demonstration dubbed Helsinki Calling is the first protest directed at presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

Police have said that at least 10 demonstrations were planned to protest US and Russian presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin as they meet in Helsinki for bilateral talks on Monday 16 July. The largest of the protests is expected to be the Helsinki Calling demonstration, which begins at 1.00pm on Sunday and will proceed from Kaisaniemi Park to Senate Square in downtown Helsinki. The demonstrators will include representatives from up to 100 grassroots organisations and will feature speakers such as writer Sofi Oksanen, entrepreneur Peter Vesterbacka and Europarliamentarian Heidi Hautala. The umbrella group organising the protest said that it is demonstrating in support of human rights and democracy. On Sunday the youth arm of the nationalistic Finns Party will also organise a Welcome Trump event at Narinkkatori, starting from 1.30pm.

Sun, 15 Jul 2018 13:03:07 +0300

Yle to broadcast Trump arrival ahead of Helsinki summit

Television, radio and online audiences can follow the arrival of US President Donald Trump Sunday evening ahead of talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

US President Donald Trump is expected to touch down in Helsinki at about 9.00pm Sunday evening for his first official one-on-one discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday morning. If the US president is on schedule, Yle will broadcast his arrival live, including when Trump’s official aircraft, Air Force One, lands at the Helsinki Airport. Yle audiences will be able to follow the special broadcast on Yle TV1, Radio Suomi and online at Yle Areena from 9.05pm. Yle News will update this page with a link to the online stream once it is available.

Sun, 15 Jul 2018 11:31:34 +0300

Amnesty International Finland calls on President Niinistö to defend human rights during Trump-Putin talks

Human rights organisation Amnesty International in Finland says both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have undermined human rights during their time in office.

The Finnish chapter of the human rights organisation Amnesty International has called on Finnish President Sauli Niinistö to stand up for human rights during talks with US and Russian presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Amnesty Finland said it hopes that Niinistö will remind both leaders to observe international agreements on human rights during a series of bilateral talks on Monday. Amnesty pointed out that Niinistö holds an important position as host of the first official meeting between the two heads. “It would be good for Niinistö to remind [them] to uphold international agreements, which from the perspective of a superpower is a better alternative than permitting torture and continuing violation of the laws of war,” Amnesty International Finland executive director Frank Johansson commented in a statement. According to Johansson, Niinistö could adopt an unwavering position and show the visiting heads in which camp Finland belongs with respect to human rights. The NGO stressed that during their respective terms in office, both Putin and Trump have chipped away at human rights. “Their policies have led to families being broken up, children locked in cages, ongoing atrocities in the protracted war in Syria and the torture and killing of sexual minorities in Chechnya, to name only a few,” Johansson continued in the release. The NGO head added that Monday’s summit will offer both Trump and Putin an opportunity to change course and begin to lead with compassion and fairness.

Sun, 15 Jul 2018 10:44:11 +0300

Trump-Putin meeting to disrupt traffic and public transport

The summit in Helsinki is expected to close several important roads and cause major traffic delays on both Sunday and Monday.

The Monday July 16 meeting of the US and Russian Presidents in Finland will cause traffic closures in many parts of Helsinki and the neighbouring city of Vantaa. Helsinki police say several motorcades will pass through the metropolitan area, causing significant disruptions to traffic, especially in the Helsinki city centre and also on routes between Helsinki Airport and the downtown area. No other traffic is allowed on the routes when the motorcades are on the road. The Market Square and harbour across from the Presidential Palace meeting venue will be on lock-down, meaning that no people, cars or boats will be allowed in the area. The city of Helsinki reports that from approximately 11:30 am to 8 pm on Monday, Mannerheimintie will be totally closed at times, and various sections of the street will be closed to traffic for long stretches of time. Both Esplanades – Eteläesplanadi and Pohjoisesplanadi – will be closed to traffic, and the street of Aleksanterinkatu will be closed between Unioninkatu and Meritullinkatu. Some areas will be accessible from other routes Access to the city centre from the northern route of Pohjoisranta will only be possible via the Liisankatu street, and access to and from the island of Katajanokka will only be possible along Meritullintori and Kanavakatu. The parks and surrounding residential areas of Ullanlinna, Kaivopuisto and the Olympia Terminal will likewise only be accessible from the west. Helsinki law enforcement says the Esplanades and a few streets in the city centre will be closed to vehicular traffic already on Sunday due to planned protests. City residents are advised to avoid using their cars in the city centre, if at all possible. "Or at least move out of the way in time. The schedules of the visitors could change with very little notice, and this would affect traffic arrangements and possibly cause road closures in Helsinki and Vantaa," says Police Chief Heikki Kopperoinen. The best choice is to walk or bike Public transport will be disrupted extensively on both days, although most of the long service breaks are expected to start at 11 am on Monday. The metro and local commuter trains will largely run as normal, if possible, but several trams will be halted at times and many buses will be rerouted due to road closures. Approximately 10 bike-share docking stations will also be out of service. Water transport will also be restricted due to the presidential visits. Private vessels will be prohibited in front of the Presidential Palace on Monday and waterbus and cruise vessel piers at the Market Square will be closed. The Suomenlinna islands will be served by the Suomenlinna maintenance ferry, which departs from Katajanokka. Suomenlinna and Vallisaari can likewise be reached by waterbus from the Helsinki district of Hakaniemi. The Helsinki Airport for its part advised its customers to expect delays on Sunday and Monday, in part due to the reinstated internal border checks. It also reports that aviation, drone flying, plane spotting and photography near the airport will be reduced during the summit.

Sat, 14 Jul 2018 17:04:45 +0300

Venue and timetable of July 16 Trump-Putin summit confirmed

Monday's meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki will include a joint press conference from US and Russian Presidents in the afternoon.

A July 13 press release from the office of the Finnish President has confirmed the site of the July 16 meeting of the US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin as the Presidential Palace in downtown Helsinki. As host of the meeting, President Sauli Niinistö is scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with both presidents on that same day. According to the release, Monday will begin with President Niinistö and his wife Jenni Haukio welcoming President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at their official residence in Mäntyniemi, Helsinki. The release says that Jenni Haukio and Melania Trump will enjoy breakfast together while the presidents meet. The Helsinki Summit meeting between Trump and Putin is scheduled to begin at the Presidential Palace at approximately 1 pm. Niinistö will first officially welcome Putin to the venue, and then Trump. The bilateral discussions between the Russian and American presidents will take place in the Presidential Palace’s Gothic Hall, followed by a working lunch that will be open to a wider group in the Hall of Mirrors. Other top-level meetings to take place Prior to the lunch, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will also meet for discussions at the Presidential Palace. Finland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini will also meet with Secretary Pompeo in the palace during the Monday proceedings. The wider talks will be followed by a joint press conference given by President Trump and President Putin in the Hall of State. The press release gave no indication as to what time in the afternoon the joint appearance is likely to take place. After the joint press conference, Finland's President Niinistö and Russia's President Putin will stay at the Presidential Palace to meet bilaterally. The day will conclude with a final press conference from the palace from Finnish President Sauli Niinistö.

Sat, 14 Jul 2018 14:08:54 +0300