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About 2,500 protesters demonstrated in support of human rights, democracy and the environment in Helsinki on Sunday, a day before U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin hold a summit in the Finnish capital.
Demonstrators brandished banners that read “Make peace, not war”, “Refugees are welcome” and “Make human rights great again!”
Trump arrived in Helsinki later Sunday from Scotland. Tens of thousands of people demonstrated against his visit to London on Friday and several thousand more protested on Saturday in Scotland, where he spent much of the weekend playing golf.
Putin was due to arrive in Helsinki just ahead of the talks on Monday.
Helsinki — a venue which evokes memories of Cold War show-downs between the Soviet Union and the United States — has introduced security measures for the summit, including temporary border checks.
At another square in Helsinki on Sunday, a small group of people, including members of the nationalist Finns Party, staged a pro-Trump rally. In total, some 16 demonstrations are expected to be held in Helsinki on Sunday and Monday.
Helsinki mayor Jan Vapaavuori said he was not worried about the protests, saying Finland has a long history of peaceful demonstrations.
“I would be much more worried if we weren’t preparing ourselves for some demonstrations,” he said.
EU state Finland is seen as a neutral venue as it is not a member of the U.S.-led NATO military alliance. It shares a long border with Russia, which ruled it for more than a century until the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, when Finland won its independence.
Trump has said he and Putin will discuss among other issues reducing nuclear weapons. Trump has also said he has low expectations for the meeting, which could be overshadowed by accusations that Russians meddled in the U.S. 2016 election.
Trump Turned heads Sunday evening after he said in interview ahead of the summit that the European Union a “foe” with regard to trade.
In a pre-summit interview with CBS News’ “Face the Nation” program aired Sunday, Trump lumped in the EU with China and Russia as U.S. economic adversaries.
“I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade,” he said.
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, replied on Twitter using one of Trump’s favorite stock phrases.
“America and the EU are best friends,” Tusk wrote. “Whoever says we are foes is spreading fake news.”
Featured image is from San Antonio Express-News.