As thousands of Finnish residents flocked to the capital city on Saturday for a demonstration demanding a strong government response to climate change, dozens of members of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, known as the PVL in Finnish, were also assembling in the Helsinki city centre. Police estimate that about 100 people joined in the afternoon demonstration.
Already in the morning, before the assembly took place, Helsinki Police detained nine individuals who were planning to join the march. Law enforcement officials tweeted that the individuals were taken into custody at a Helsinki port to safeguard against any crimes or disturbances that may occur.
"According to our data, the individuals were planning to participate in a PVL demonstration. They were in possession of equipment – martial arts gloves, among other things – that gave us grounds to believe that they were prepared for violence," said Helsinki deputy police chief Heikki Kopperoinen.
Police report that the persons detained have now been released and have left the country. One of the individuals was given a fine.
Kopperoinen says the assembly marched to the front of Finland's Ministry of Interior, where several speeches were made. The deputy police chief said the group had received permission to congregate, and the event transpired without incident.
Ban has not come into force
The Turku Appeals Court ruled in late September that the PVL should be banned, as it ran counter to existing law and good practice. In November 2017, the Pirkanmaa District Court had also banned the organisation for the same reasons, but the neo-Nazi group appealed the decision to the appellate court, which overruled the appeal.
The appeal court decision effectively makes it illegal for the Nordic Resistance Movement to mobilise, demonstrate and distribute propaganda. The PVL will have to cease operations once the court’s decision becomes enforceable, after all avenues of appeal have been exhausted.
"The appellate court decision has not yet come into force, as the time period for an appeal to a higher court has not yet expired. As long as the situation stays like this, the organization will do what it does," Kopperoinen said.
News of the PVL march was first reported by the daily Helsingin Sanomat.