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President´s portrait reportedly contains "wrong cheek"

23 May 2018, 20:07 ( 23 May, 2018) | updated: 23 May 2018, 20:17 ( 23 May, 2018)

DF-Xinhua Report
President Sauli Niinistö´s recently published mosaic portrait. Photo President Office.

The look of President Sauli Niinistö in his recently published mosaic portrait came under hot discussion on Wednesday, as a part of the cheek in the portrait actually does not belong to him.

The official portrait of President Niinistö was unveiled early May. It is a mosaic photograph comprising one hundred smaller blocks, each assigned to one artist through a lottery.

Päivi Koskinen, one of the contributing artists, told a Finnish language newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that the left cheek belongs to an asylum seeker. She had replaced the original Niinistö's cheek with one from Sadiq Bahrooz.

When the portrait commissioned by the Finnish government was published some weeks ago, the word was that the underlying facial picture of the president was authentic, even though variably colored and graphically altered.

Contacted by the newspaper, the presidential office gave no comment, but quoted Niinistö's earlier words about the portrait. Niinistö had said the country is multi-faceted and that the portrait sends "a hundred signals".

Artist Koskinen told Helsingin Sanomat she did the swap out of sympathy to Bahrooz. She also shared her impression that Niinistö has not been very sympathetic towards asylum seekers.

Bahrooz had worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. He had been sure that he could be granted asylum in Finland, but he got a negative decision. He finally got residence right after the supreme administrative court reviewed his case.