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Finnish MP compares police to 'enemy during war' after cops break up Covid restriction protest

Ano Turtiainen added that he thinks the world is at war and the situation will not be resolved "without worse brawls".

Kansanedustaja Ano Turtiainen eduskunnassa 24.2.2021
File photo of MP Ano Turtiainen in Parliament. Image: Pekka Tynell / Yle

Member of Parliament Ano Turtiainen (at*) has said that he considers the Finnish police to be like an 'enemy during war'.

In a post on Facebook, the MP wrote that in his opinion the police do not protect citizens, but instead the bureaucracy of which they are also a part.

"I do not trust the police anymore. I treat them the same way I would deal with the worst enemy during war," Turtiainen wrote.

In the post, he referred to police breaking up a protest against coronavirus restrictions held in Helsinki last weekend. The MP also claimed police have threatened to fine his company 21,700 euros, but did not elaborate.

Turtiainen added that he believes the world is at war and he does not think that the situation will be resolved "without worse brawls".

"Remember, everything that happens is in the hands of the Supreme [God], and it is meant to happen. It is time for us to defend ourselves against the enemy that lives among us, and we need to get it turned to our side," he wrote.

Parliament cannot interfere in social media posts

Last Friday, Parliament decided not to take any action over a tweet by Turtiainen, in which he appeared to send a thinly-veiled threat to MPs in favour of a mask mandate.

A large number of MPs from different parties met to discuss the issue, including the speakers of Parliament, the committee chairs, and the chairs of each parties' parliamentary group, where it was decided that Turtiainen would not be reprimanded.

"It was our unanimous view," Speaker of Parliament Anu Vehviläinen (Cen) said after the meeting.

Although MPs are required to speak respectfully during parliamentary speeches, Parliament cannot interfere in other forms of communication, such as Facebook posts, blog posts or tweets.

Negative social media presence 'best way' to attract attention

Turtiainen's social media posts have raised many eyebrows, including from within his former party. Finns Party local politician Mervi Eskelinen told Yle that his social media strategy may be a means of standing out from the other 200 MPs.

"This is nastily said, but Ano Turtiainen is a fanatical single-issue man, and that single issue always changes. He probably wants to stand out that way," Eskelinen said.

Yle read all of the nearly 800 tweets sent from Turtiainen’s Twitter account and found that only 16 were positive in tone, all of the the rest were negative.

"He would not necessarily come to the fore other than with provocative speeches. Reputation and publicity are important issues for politics, and this is one way of differentiation," explained Tuija Saresma, a Senior Researcher of Contemporary Culture at the University of Jyväskylä.

According to Saresma, a negative social media presence is the best way to attract discussion and attention. Anger, aggression, indignation and outrage evoke more resonance and responses than positive and constructive debates.

Finland has been moving towards the style of political discourse prevalent in the United States, which involves aggravating, offending and demonising the other side, Saresma added.

"Politicians' online debates do not necessarily raise issues that are important to them or otherwise build a good debate, but attack others," she said.

*Turtiainen has formed his own one-man parliamentary party since being expelled from the Finns Party's parliamentary group last year.

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