The City of Helsinki strongly condemns the war instigated by Russia in Ukraine and supports the Ukrainian people shoulder to shoulder with the European Union. The hostilities in Ukraine have caused an enormous amount of human suffering and violated the territorial integrity of a sovereign European country.
Yet the actions of Russian leadership must be separated from that of ordinary Russian people. There must therefore be zero tolerance of discrimination, racism or hostility directed towards people with a Russian background. There is no place for discrimination or harassment in Helsinki, or in all of Finland for that matter, as such behaviour is prohibited by Finnish law.
“Helsinki is an international city, and it is important now that we maintain a united sense of community. There is no place for discriminatory talk or attitudes in Helsinki. Russian citizens and Russian speakers are not to blame for this war. Discrimination against children and young people in particular is harmful in many ways, and therefore especially reprehensible,” says the Mayor of Helsinki Juhana Vartiainen.
The City of Helsinki commits to immediately and effectively addressing any harassment or discrimination at schools, leisure activities and early education facilities.
Helsinki shows its sympathy for Ukraine
In addition to humanitarian aid, the City of Helsinki has shown its sympathy for the Ukrainian people by illuminating the City Hall in the colours of the Ukrainian flag. When this ended on 7 March, the city continued its show of support by flying the Ukrainian flag at select municipal premises. The Oodi Central Library, for example, hoisted the Ukrainian flag on 25 February, and will continue to do so. In situations where certain flags have been scheduled to fly or national flag days are commemorated; one Ukrainian flag will fly alongside the Finnish flag. On national flag days in locations where there is just one flagpole, the Finnish flag will be flown.
The image of a dove, the recognised symbol of peace, will also be added today, 8 March 2022, as a profile picture to the city’s main social media accounts.
These symbolic gestures supplement concrete aid to the region, as the City of Helsinki earlier decided to support Ukraine by donating EUR 350,000 in humanitarian aid. The city is also offering support and guidance to asylum seekers arriving in Helsinki who are fleeing the war in Ukraine. Recent events have triggered the provisions of the EU’s Temporary Protection Directive for the first time, obliging the EU Member States to offer quick and effective assistance to people fleeing the war in Ukraine.