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Greenpeace protests Finland's transport of Russian coal headed for Europe

State railway firm VR announced in a tweet shortly before noon that it agreed with the protesters.

Greenpeace Finland protested at Helsinki Central Railway Station on Thursday. Image: JONNE SIPPOLA

Activists from the Finnish arm of environmental group Greenpeace protested at Helsinki Central Railway Station on Thursday morning, urging the country to stop facilitating the export of Russian coal.

In a statement, the group urged Finnish state railway firm VR to stop transporting coal from the Russian border to ports of export, saying the practice finances Russia's invasion of Ukraine and contributes to climate change.

Activists climbed on the railway building in downtown Helsinki to hang two yellow banners stating the group's goals, "Stop Russian fossil trade."

VR announced in a tweet shortly before noon that it agreed with the protest.

"We have already visited with the protesters at the scene to express our support and have made efforts to stop the transports as quickly as possible. We have already terminated the [transport] agreements," VR tweeted (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

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Greenpeace: Ukraine needs action, not speeches

In a statement on Thursday, Greenpeace Finland's campaign manager, Matti Liimatainen, reiterated statements it made on Wednesday when it carried out a similar protest at the headquarters of majority state-owned power company Fortum.

"State ownership has not done enough to assist the Ukrainians. Ukraine does not need speeches, but action. VR announced this week it planned to continue cargo traffic until the end of the year if their clients wish. This is substandard, amoral behaviour," Liimatainen's statement read.

Liimatainen was referring to an announcement VR issued on Wednesday stating that the company was terminating its contracts related to transports between Russia and Finland.

"We estimate that traffic will be reduced to about a third of the original level by the end of the summer. Some customers want to continue traffic until the end of the notice period, but we are still continuing negotiations on stopping traffic faster than this. In any case, all Russian freight traffic operated by VR will end by the end of the year at the latest," Topi Simola, VR Group's acting managing director said in Wednesday's statement (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

Helsinki police said officers had been unable to reach the activists who climbed to the top of the railway station building's roof.

However, police said that Greenpeace announced that it planned to end the demonstration at 1pm.

One of the two banners had already been removed due to strong wind, police said.

Last month police in the southwest city of Hanko broke up a blockade of Russian coal cargo trains by Extinction Rebellion activists, who were protesting the coal's transport through Finnish territory for delivery to Europe.

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