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Children's Independence Day event to make way for far-right procession in Helsinki

Police cited a security risk in urging the relocation of a children's Independence Day event to make way for a demonstration by a far-right group.

Image: Sakari Partanen / Yle

CEO of the Heltu wholesale market in Helsinki, Elina Siltanen told Yle on Monday that police had asked to change the location of the children’s event, which was to feature alpacas, among other things.

According to the wholesale market head, police cited security reasons when they urged moving the children’s Independence Day event to a new location.

The children’s celebration clashes with a torch procession planned by the far-right collective known as 612, daily Helsingin Sanomat reported last week.

"There is expected to be a security risk and at the end of last week we agreed to find a new venue for the children’s event," Siltanen said.

Helsinki police have confirmed that the organisers of the junior independence celebration are looking for a new location. However Chief Inspector Seppo Kujala of the Helsinki police department did not volunteer any further information on Monday.

Communication gap to blame for double-booking

According to Siltanen, so far there is no concrete information on the new venue, but she pointed out that it will not be in the wholesale market, also known as Heltu.

"My colleagues responsible for property management have discussed a few options with the organiser. Heltu isn’t offering these venues, but I believe they are quite adequate," she added.

Meanwhile the organiser of the children’s event, Jaakko Hippö, said that he had not yet received any information from the city of Helsinki about the relocation of the festivities.

Yle asked Siltanen how it was possible for both a children’s event and a far-right procession to be placed in the same location.

"It’s a question of the usual information gaps. On the police end we were not told and it never occurred to us to ask," Siltanen explained.

The marketplace manager said that the police had granted permission for the torch procession long before the notification about the children’s event came to the marketplace.