The District Court of Helsinki has resolved not to sentence Greenpeace activists who held a demonstration against the funding of Russia’s war of aggression. The decision is significant, as it acknowledges both the moral obligation of the activists and the ”acceptable” objectives of the demonstration. Finland continues to purchase fossil energy from Russia, totalling approximately ten million euros each month.

On April 5, 2022, nine Greenpeace activists staged a protest at the dock of Helen's Salmisaari coal power plant in Helsinki.
On April 5, 2022, nine Greenpeace activists staged a protest at the dock of Helen’s Salmisaari coal power plant in Helsinki, effectively halting the unloading of a Russian cargo ship carrying coal. Photo: Patrik Rastenberger / Greenpeace

”I believe the court’s verdict underscores the contradiction of Finland funding Russia’s war of aggression through fossil imports. I explained to the court that it was my moral duty to halt the coal ship, and I don’t anticipate that many will condemn this act, either now or in the future,” says Greenpeace activist Nadja Uusiperhe.

On April 5, 2022, nine Greenpeace activists staged a protest at the dock of Helen’s Salmisaari coal power plant in Helsinki, effectively halting the unloading of a Russian cargo ship carrying coal. The Russian coal arrived at Salmisaari a mere day after the massacre of Bucha civilians in Ukraine was disclosed.

In its judgement on Thursday, May 3, the District Court of Helsinki decided not to sentence the Greenpeace activists. The court’s verdict implies that the activists were acting out of a moral obligation. It stated that the demonstration was peaceful and the damage was minimal. The climbing equipment confiscated from the activists will also be returned.

The District Court of Helsinki noted in its decision (unofficial translation): ”Considering the impact of the Bucha events on the defendants, the essentially acceptable objectives pursued by the defendants through their actions, the peaceful nature of the demonstration, and the minor damage caused, the district court deems that the alleged offenses are equivalent to a forgivable act due to unique circumstances related to the actions and perpetrators. Hence, the district court leaves the defendants unsentenced as per Chapter 6, Section 12, Paragraph 3 of the Criminal Code.”

”The Helsinki District Court’s decision is historic. Finland continues to wrongfully finance Russia’s war by importing fossil energy worth millions of euros each month. This creates a strong obligation to act, which the district court has now acknowledged in its decision. All fossil fuel imports from Russia must end immediately,” says Touko Sipiläinen, Greenpeace’s Programme Manager in Finland.

Nearly Two Billion Euros Worth of Russian Fossil Energy Imported to Finland in the First Year of the War

During the first year of the war, Finland imported Russian fossil energy worth 1.9 billion euros, according to foreign trade statistics provided by the Finnish customs. The export of fossil energy – coal, gas, and oil – forms the backbone of the Russian economy. Russia finances its war of aggression and war crimes in Ukraine through this fossil trade.

Over the course of a year, Finland has provided a little over one billion euros in support to Ukraine, as shown by statistics from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As of now, Russian coal is no longer imported to Finland, but fossil gas is not included in the EU sanctions list. According to the most recent statistics, nearly 10 million euros worth of Russian fossil gas is still imported to Finland each month.

Despite Calls for Halt, Finland Continues Natural Gas Imports from Russia

There has been no significant change in the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) since June of the previous year. This remains the case even though Finland’s minister of Ownership, Tytti Tuppurainen, announced to Helsingin Sanomat in August of the previous year that import of Russian LNG must stop.

The Finnish state company Gasum has been importing liquefied natural gas, or LNG, from Russia to Finland since June at an average of about 10 million euros per month. Outokumpu and SSAB buy gas from Gasum.

”The war has been ongoing for over a year, yet Finland has failed to cut off the flow of gas money to Russia. Petteri Orpo’s government must accomplish what the previous administration could not. There must be a total ban on the import of Russian fossil energy,” states Touko Sipiläinen.

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, for instance, banned the import of Russian fossil gas as early as spring 2022, followed by Great Britain in January 2023. 

Greenpeace is calling for an immediate halt to all fossil energy imports from Russia and swift advancement towards a society completely free of fossil fuels.

Photos from the April 2022 demonstration available to the media

Additional information and interview requests:

Touko Sipiläinen
Programme Manager
+358 44 239 4404
[email protected]

Mari Vaara
Press Officer
+358 40 751 7957
[email protected]