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6 protesters held in Helsinki

Independence Day observed amidst festivity

07 Dec 2018, 02:15 ( 5 Months ago) | updated: 07 Dec 2018, 12:22 ( 5 Months ago)

DF Report
President Sauli Niinistö and First Lady Jenni Haukio were dancing during the Independence Day reception at the presidential palace on Thursday. Photo President Office by Juhani Kandell.

The nation celebrated the country’s independence on Thursday amidst festivity and joy and showing due respect to the war veterans almost peacefully as there were a few sporadic demonstrations.

The main celebration took place at the presidential palace in the traditional way where President Sauli Niinistö and First Lady Jenni Haukio accorded reception to hundreds of guests including senior citizens, professionals, cultural activists, diplomats and people from different strata of the society.

About 1,700 guests were invited to the celebrations which also commemorated Finnish cultural markers for many years.

Meanwhile, different groups including extremist far-right 612, the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, and anti-extremists held separate demonstrations in the evening during the celebration.

The police picked up six people from demonstrations but no major unwanted incident took place as the law enforcers took tight security measures, said a police press release late Thursday night.

Two processions made their way through Helsinki city centre on Thursday evening. A group of 200 to 300 activists of the neo-Nazi Kohtivapautta ('toward freedom') marched through the city streets from Kaisaniemi through Kallio towards the Töölö district, reported the national broadcaster Yle quoting the police.

The other was a counter-demonstration of 2,000 people, Helsinki Ilmannatseja ('Helsinki without Nazis'), which proceeded from Narinkkatori square in Kamppi towards Töölö’s Taivallahti area, said the Yle report.

A traditional torch procession of university students began at 5:00pm from Hietaniemi cemetery, finishing in the Senate Square.

Meanwhile, the Finnish Defence Forces took part in an exercise marking the day.

Some 700 people, 50 vehicles and 18 aircraft took part in the Defence Forces’ Independence Day parade staged in Mikkeli, eastern Finland.

About 15,000 people witnessed the exercise of military strength.