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11 Apr, 2013 02:48

Finland’s most wanted? Putin’s biker connections put him on secret blacklist

Finland’s most wanted? Putin’s biker connections put him on secret blacklist

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 told Kommersant FM radio station. “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.”

The office of the Prosecutor General in Finland has launched a criminal case into the incident after Putin was mistakenly listed as a wanted criminal.

Vladimir Putin.(AFP Photo / Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Putin is known for his numerous pastimes and his support for healthy lifestyles, including his affection for fishing and judo.

In July 2009, then Prime Minister Putin visited a biker's club called the Night Wolves.

The club's leader, known as the Surgeon, gave Putin a tour around the place, and briefed him about the club’s history starting from the 1980s.

The Surgeon invited Putin to join thousands of motorbike lovers at an international bike show in Sevastopol in Ukraine.

A year later, in July 2010, Putin, who has called motorcycles “the most dramatic form of transport,” joined the Night Wolves and another 5,000 riders in Ukraine as he leaped onto a Harley Davidson wearing black sunglasses, black jeans and black fingerless gloves.

But his association with the “really cool guys, really tough guys” continued as he visited a number of biker events.

In 2011, Vladimir Putin made an appearance at a youth bike show in the Russian city of Novorossiysk. He arrived on a three-wheel Harley Davidson at the head of a column of Night Wolves to praise WWII heroes.

The same year, while on a foreign visit to Serbia and Macedonia, Putin seized the opportunity and met with some local bikers he’d first become acquainted with in Ukraine’s Sevastopol.