The incidence of direct attacks against ministers has increased from the previous years, the Finnish Government estimates.
The most recent incident dates back to Monday when a soft drink was thrown at Alexander Stubb (NCP), the Minister of Finance, in Koskikeskus, Tampere. Stubb has according to Ilta-Sanomat revealed that he is considering seeking a penalty for the attacker.
Jari Ylitalo, the head of government security, estimates that respect for the personal inviolability of cabinet members has diminished. “People basically only used to give verbal feedback, but now they've taken one step closer to ministers as individuals,” he says.
Stubb, Ylitalo reminds, was the target of another attack in August when two men discharged an air rifle at his home in Haukilahti, Espoo.
More on the topic:
- Two men detained for vandalism attack on Stubb's home (24 August 2015)
He also sees a connection between the increase in attacks and hard-line comments on online discussion boards. “Actions we call harsh speech and inappropriate conduct have increased this year,” he reveals.
Authorities convene on a regular basis to re-evaluate the sufficiency of security measures for cabinet members, according to Ylitalo. The discussions have recently also broached on the repercussions of the terror attacks in Paris and the terror alert in Brussels for public safety.
The incident in Tampere will be reviewed by an official co-operation forum by the end of the year, he adds. “We'll analyse what happened and mull over its implications,” he explains.
Ylitalo refrained on Tuesday from shedding light on how the security measures have been or will be changed. The intention is according to him to monitor the situation closely and go through the schedules of cabinet members for the weeks to come in more detail than usual.
“We'll have to mull over things one step at a time,” he says.
Authorities have also expressed their hope that the increase in attacks against policy-makers would stop. “If we have to step up security measures considerably from the current levels, ministers will no longer be able to meet regular citizens in marketplaces or shopping centres, for example. This will cause harm also to citizens who are eager to meet policy-makers with good intentions,” laments Ylitalo.
Ville Eloranta – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
© HELSINGIN SANOMAT
Photo: Sami Kero / HS