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Police chief: Putin on suspects' list by mistake

Finland's top law enforcement official says he is sorry that the Russian leader's name erroneously ended up on a secret list of criminal suspects.

Mikko Paatero.
Paatero was interviewed on Yle TV1's breakfast show earlier this year. Image: Yle

National Police Commissioner Mikko Paatero has apologised for his department’s mistakenly including Russian President Vladimir Putin on its list of suspicious individuals.

The National Police Board said on Wednesday afternoon the listing was erroneous and made without any legal basis.

The commercial broadcaster MTV3 reported earlier in the day that Putin was included on a secret police list of suspicious persons maintained by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

The Police Board’s top brass asked the NBI to remove the erroneous listing, which it did immediately.

The police department is looking into whether wrongful actions led to the name’s inclusion on the list, and whether further steps are necessary.

The list of people is intended for police use nationally. It includes data from criminal investigations, surveillance and other observations. It focuses on individuals whom police have reason to suspect are guilty of – or could become guilty of – crimes that are punishable by imprisonment.

Police boss "stunned"

Paatero said he was sorry for the incident and stressed that data on official registries must be flawless and entered with a solid legal basis.

“This kind of case is extremely unusual and completely unacceptable,” the top cop said. “The Police Board has paid special attention to the proper handling of personal information.”

Paatero told Yle he was “stunned” and that it was “very difficult to understand” what was actually behind the listing.

According to the MTV3 programme "45 minuuttia", the NBI suspected that Putin might have contributed to organised crime, citing his links to a motorcycle gang. The addition of his name to the list took place last November, shortly after Putin gave an award to a leader of a motorcycle club called the Night Wolves.

However, the NBI told Yle that it did not have any ongoing investigations where the Russian head of state was suspected of any crime.

Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen said that it was extremely regrettable that the information had ended up on the list -- and that confidential information had been leaked to the media.

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