Members of Soldiers of Odin marching along the neo-Nazi parade on Independence Day, December 6, 2018, in Helsinki. Soldiers of Odin is a street patrol organization, which according to their words, ‘aims to increase the feeling of safety among Finns.’ Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

HELSINKI

Tony Öhberg contributed to this report.

A movement called “Towards Freedom” (Kohti vapautta), which is seen as an extension of the banned neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement (PVL), tried to organize a march in Helsinki on Finland’s Independence Day.

However, their plans were foiled by the Helsinki Police Department, who judged the event would not be a peaceful and legitimate demonstration in accordance with Finnish law and constitution.

Yet, another march with a sympathizing ideology and approved by the police is taking place in the afternoon.

Soldiers of Odin, a nationalist street patrol organization, known to march along neo-Nazis, is arranging a protest at the Citizens’ Square at 16:00. They will proceed across the Etu-Töölö district to Hesperianpuisto. Antifascist groups are calling the protest labeled “Bring Back Safe Finland” a cover operation for the march banned by the police.

The police believe that the “Towards Freedom” movement and the PVL, which was temporarily banned by Finland’s Supreme Court earlier this year, have the same active members, while the National Bureau of Investigations suspects the movement of participating in illegal activities.

The fact that the two movements share a similar visual image, promote the same ideas and use the same slogans is further reason to suspect a connection between them.

On their website, the “Towards Freedom” movement says they have sent a complaint to the Helsinki Administrative Court in regard to the police ban, claiming that the ban violates human rights and discriminates against people on the basis of their political beliefs.

They also asked their supporters to send the same complaint, either to the court or the Ombudsman.