Monday

21st Jan 2019

Finnish MP poses with far-right extremists

Olli Immonen, an MP for the populist Finns Party in the ruling coalition, is at the centre of a media storm in Finland after a photo emerged of him posing with far-right extremists.

The photo was posted by the MP himself on Facebook late on Tuesday (16 June) and shows Immonen with individuals from the Finnish Resistance Movement at the memorial stone of nationalist Eugen Schauman.

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  • Immonen posted the photo on his Facebook page (Photo: A screengrab from Immonen's Facebook page. Image: Ruutukaappaus Olli Immosen Facebook-sivuilta)

Schauman committed suicide in 1904 after killing the Russian governor general of Finland, which was at this time still under Russian rule.

The Resistance Movement is openly national socialist and revolutionary. It's led from Sweden by Klas Lund, who has been convicted of several crimes, including manslaughter.

In Finland members of the group have been convicted for stabbings of immigrants, assaults on political opponents, and an attack against the Pride march in Helsinki in 2012.

Immonen is the chair of the controversial group Suomen Sisu, home of the far-right fringe within the Finns Party. Teemu Lahtinen, Suomen Sisu founder and Finns Party city councilor in the municipality of Espoo is also pictured in the photo. But Immonen denied there are formal links between the two movements.

"Suomen Sisu and the Finnish Resistance Movement have not co-operated", he told Helsingin Sanomat.

In December, on the Finnish Day of Independence, Immonen openly supported a march that included numerous members of the Resistance Movement as security detail.

The march was organised by known far-right activists, who also participated in the memorial event for Schauman.

In April, after the Finnish parliamentary elections, Immonen also wrote that he wishes to see a "nationalist revolution".

For his part, Sampo Terho, the leader of the Finns Party parliamentary delegation, told Finnish paper Iltasanomat that Immonen's participation at the Schauman memorial event was purely personal.

"Immonen took part as a private person in an event that is completely unrelated to the Finns Party. He did not represent the Finns parliamentary group and as chair of the group I can’t decide who he spends his leisure time with", Terho said.

Finns party chair and foreign minister Timo Soini has refused to comment on the incident.

He told journalists to speak to Terho, who recently gave up his position as a member of the European Parliament for a place in the national legislature.

The Finns Party is one of three parties in government, after getting 17.65 percent of the vote in national elections in April.

The ruling Centre party and the National Coalition party, also in government, have not commented on the photo.

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