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Helsinki set for Koivisto's state funeral

Finland buries a President on Thursday for the first time in thirty years, and Helsinki is getting set for the occasion. Police expect huge crowds for Mauno Koivisto's funeral, and have closed streets across the city centre in preparation.

Mauno Koiviston surukirja Presidentinlinnassa Helsingissä perjantaina 19. toukokuuta 2017.
Mauno Koivisto died on 12 May 2017. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

On Thursday Finland holds its first state funeral for six years, and first funeral of an ex-president for 35 years. Mauno Koivisto died on 12 May at the age of 93, and will be laid to rest on Thursday.

He took over as president from Urho Kekkonen, bringing in a more collaborative and parliamentary form of government in comparison to his strongman predecessor.

Preparations are in the final stages for Mauno Koivisto's funeral, with the man behind the public image set to take centre stage.

President as a person

"We want to emphasise details about things that were close to Mauno Koivisto as a person," said State Secretary to the Prime Minister, Paula Lehtomäki. "This will be seen for example in songs performed by a male voice choir, and other details around the event. I hope that his loved ones' influence will come through as strongly as possible."

Koivisto's Social Democratic party allegiance will not be signified during the event, as is customary with Finnish politicians once they become president.

Thursday is the Ascension public holiday in Finland, and a large crowd is expected to follow the funeral.

Best spots to spectate

The ceremony will be held at Helsinki Cathedral from 1pm. From around 2:30pm the funeral procession to Hietaniemi Cemetery will begin, stopping outside the Prime Minister's office and the Bank of Finland in recognition of Koivisto's terms as PM and chair of the central bank.

The procession will then proceed to Hietaniemi via Pohjoisesplanadi, Mannerheimintie and Arkadiankatu.

Authorities advise spectators that Senate Square is the best spot to observe the funeral, as space is extremely limited at Hietaniemi Cemetery. The whole event will be shown live on Yle's TV1, Yle Areena and on Radio Suomi.

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