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Facebook group plans Helsinki traffic blockade, protesting Covid restrictions, fuel prices

No date has yet been announced for the planned action and the city's police chief said the group's plans would be illegal if they were to be carried out.

Protests against Covid restrictions have been held in Helsinki previously. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Opponents of restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of Covid infections are planning a demonstration in downtown Helsinki that will include protesters blocking traffic on the capital city's streets.

The action also aims to highlight opposition to rising fuel prices.

The planned demonstration has been inspired by similar action elsewhere in the world. A convoy of trucks staged a protest (siirryt toiseen palveluun) against Covid vaccine mandates earlier this week in Canada.

Yle understands that the event in Finland is still only in the planning stages, and no date for the protest has been announced. However, groups set up on Facebook and the messaging app Telegram for the event have garnered tens of thousands of new members over the past two days.

"At a time to be agreed later, we will block the area surrounding Parliament House and the entire centre of Helsinki with as many vehicles as possible," the Facebook group's post outlined.

Another post in the group revealed that the intention is to leave the cars in place until "all Covid restrictions have been lifted permanently".

"The entire Finnish police force as well as all the tow trucks will not be enough to solve this situation, if all participants keep this to this line: no one moves their car," the post said.

The precise purpose of the protest is still somewhat open. According to the Facebook group, the intention is to protest Covid restrictions and the price of fuel, but the Telegram group is intending to vote on the main reason for the protest.

MP Turtiainen administrator of Telegram group

The individuals in charge of the groups appear to be people previously involved in anti-Covid demonstrations. For example, one of the administrators in the Telegram Group is MP Ano Turtiainen (VKK).

However, it does not appear as though he organised the groups.

Story continues after the photo.

MP Ano Turtiainen said he supports the planned protest. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Turtiainen told Yle that he is not likely to participate in the obstruction of traffic, but added that he does support the the event organisers' demands.

"I give my full support to putting a bone in the throat of the government," Turtiainen said.

Police: Protest would not be legal

As of Friday afternoon, Helsinki police have not received advance notice of the planned protest.

However, according to police chief Jarmo Heinonen, an event like the one described in the Facebook group would not be legal.

"Of course, demonstrations can be organised, but an event whose purpose is to obstruct as much traffic as possible is not in keeping with the spirit of the Assembly Act," Heinonen said.

He added that even leaving footpaths free, for example for emergency vehicles, would not make the event legal and he said he hoped that the organisers will contact the police as early as possible so that arrangements for the protest can be negotiated.

"After all, we can't stop people from driving downtown if someone decides to do so. But if the traffic is intentionally blocked, the police have a duty to intervene," Heinonen said.