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17 arrested at anti-coronavirus restriction protests

Police estimated that up to 300 people took part in two protests on Sunday, one of which was illegal.

Mellakkapoliisi
Image: Mikko Ahmajärvi / Yle

17 people have been arrested following two separate protests against coronavirus restrictions in Helsinki last weekend.

Of those, 16 received fines for disobeying police orders, police said.

According to police estimates, between 200 and 300 people took part in the demonstrations on Sunday.

Story continues after photo.

Poliisi ottaa kiinni mielenosoittajan
Most arrests were made after protesters disobeyed police orders. Image: Mikko Ahmajärvi / Yle

One protest, which began in Helsinki's Senate Square, was deemed illegal by police as organisers had not informed authorities of their activities in advance. It also did not have a designated organiser and violated current restrictions on public gatherings, police said.

Participants in the illegal demonstration, which was advertised on social media, attempted to march towards Parliament and Helsinki Railway Station but were diverted by police to the Esplanade park.

Story continues after photo.

Mielenosoittajia Rautatientorilla.
The demonstrators were protesting coronavirus restrictions. Image: Mikko Ahmajärvi / Yle

The legal demonstration outside Helsinki Railway Station was also stopped by police after it was joined by participants from the illegal demonstration.

"There were probably like-minded individuals in both demonstrations," Inspector Jarmo Heinonen from Helsinki Police Department told Yle.

Story continues after photo.

Polisi sulkee Aleksanterinkadun.
Police stopped a bus on Helsinki's Fabianinkatu. Image: Mikko Ahmajärvi / Yle

Police in the capital have previously been criticised for not dispersing similar protests in the capital.

In March Helsinki Police chief Seppo Kolehmainen said a demonstration held on 20 March in the capital would not set a precedent for future protests.

"I find it very dubious for people to gather in this way, without caring about the safety of others," he said.

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