Finnish burn the Russian flag during Independence Day celebration
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Russia has demanded Finland act after a video emerged of people burning the Russian flag in the middle of Helsinki. The flag-burning took place on Finnish Independence Day earlier this week in front of a huge crowd. In the video, two men can be seen holding the flag, while two others hold torches to it.
Over the course of the video, other people can be seen approaching the burning flag and adding more flames to the fire.
Chants against Russia and in support of Ukraine can also be heard throughout the clip, which drew outrage in Russia.
Police were also present at the burning and ordered those involved to stop, but they did not move to arrest anyone.
The authorities of the Finnish capital said that the celebration passed “without serious disturbances”.
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The incident took place on Tuesday during mass marches celebrating the country’s independence.
The national public holiday marks Finland’s declaration of independence from the Russian Empire when the Bolsheviks took power in late 1917.
According to the officials, several thousand people took part in the demonstrations.
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) released a statement denouncing the video and demanded immediate punishment for those involved.
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The MFA said, “such actions are considered in Moscow as an unprecedented unacceptable act of desecration of the state symbol of our country”.
The foreign ministry labelled the incident “extremist antics” as they called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice and to take measures to prevent such incidents in the future.
In Russia, desecrating the national flag is punishable by at least a year of forced labour.
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Tensions between the two countries have worsened this year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted Finland to apply to join NATO.
However, the membership process is still ongoing due to the lack of support from Turkey and Hungary.
Turkey claims Finnish and Swedish authorities allegedly support the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or the PKK, which is considered a terrorist group in Ankara.
However, Finland is also viewed as a model for Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
Finland managed to defy the Soviet Union’s superior military strength during the brief Soviet-Finnish War in 1939, which saw the Soviets suffer severe losses.
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