Russian President Vladimir Putin has been placed on a list of wanted criminals in Finland for his ties to a motorcycle club. Putin reacted to the news in his trademark ironic manner, while Helsinki issued a number of apologies.
On Wednesday, Finnish TV broadcaster MTV3 exposed that Vladimir Putin’s name surfaced in a secret criminal register for his contact with the Russian motorcycle club, the Night Wolves.
Being placed on the list translates to automatic detention at the Finnish border as a criminal for a possible jail term of at least six months. The news has shocked the country and its leaders. Statements of apologies followed.
Finnish Interior Minister Paivi Rasanen extended Putin "sincere apologies for the incorrect registry entry.
Rasanen added "the Interior Ministry considers it of grave concern if a member of the police has made such groundless entries into the database of suspects."
The country's prosecutors are looking into the possibility of launching a criminal case against those responsible for the mistake, YLE TV station reported.
The Russian president received the news with a certain degree of irony, but said he would not intervene in any way.
Presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said: "I don’t think it calls for any action [on the part of Russia]. As far as we know, the Finnish site has noticed the gaffe in time on its own," Peskov explained.
Law enforcement was quick to correct the mistake and removed the Russian leader from the list.
"The National Police Board has investigated the case and indeed found that such a mistaken entry was in the register," National Police Board spokesman Robin Lardot said, adding "we have ordered it to be removed and are investigating the case very thoroughly. We don’t know how it got there."
The chief of Finland’s national police force, Mikko Paatero, apologized for the "mistaken" inclusion of Putin’s name in the database.
"This kind of incident is extremely exceptional and is not acceptable under any circumstances," Paatero said in a statement.
The database, MTV3 reported, is known only to a few top officials. But police clarified the register was a "computerized personal data file intended for nationwide use by the police."
People placed on the list are suspected to have ties to criminal activity "or having contributed to an offense subject to imprisonment of more than six months, or to an unlawful use of narcotics."