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President Sauli Niinistö is observing as his spouse, Jenni Haukio, is expressing her condolences to the former Finnish president, Mauno Koivisto at the Presidential Palace on May 17, 2017. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

On Tuesday morning, the book of condolences for the former Finnish president, Mauno Koivisto, was opened to the public.

About a dozen of people were queuing behind the glass doors of the Presidential Palace, where the book, actually two, were waiting for messages of grief. After the books would close on Friday, they would be sent to the relatives of Koivisto.The public, mostly elderly men and women – people who were adults when Koivisto served as the president from 1982-1994 – was let into the doorway. President Sauli Niinistö and his spouse, Jenni Haukio, walked down the steps of the palace with a military entourage. The couple was clad in dark clothes.

President Niinistö sat at the table set in front of a portrait of Koivisto, which was illuminated with a candle and surrounded by flowers. The book was set on the table. He signed it. After that, it was his spouse’s turn. They didn’t speak a word but their eyes were sad. They walked back upstairs, silent as their footsteps.

After the presidential couple left, it was the public’s turn to express their condolences.

“He was a great man, kind,” said Ira Nyqvist, 41, from Espoo after walking out the palace to the glaring sun.

“Mauno Koivisto was the first president I was able to elect,” said Lena Backman from Naantali. “They say he was the last really strong president because the power of the president is different nowadays.”

[divider]The book of condolences[/divider]

Access to the Presidential Palace for the purpose of signing the book of condolence will be via the Mariankatu entrance at the following times: Tuesday, May 16 10:00–15:00, Wednesday, May 17 10:00–15:00, Thursday, May 18 10:00–18:00 and Friday, May 19 10:00–15:00. The address is Mariankatu 2 (glass doors).
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