Finnish daily puts up 300 billboard posters along Trump and Putin route to Helsinki summit to remind them of ‘importance of free press’

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin were greeted with almost 300 billboards and posters that bring attention to their “turbulent relations with the press” on their way to meeting in Finland today.

Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest daily newspaper, have taken out the billboards along the route that the presidents of America and Russia will take from Helsinki airport to the summit.

Each features a headline from Helsingin Sanomat articles that the paper hopes will “remind them [Putin and Trump] of the importance of free press as a cornerstone of all democratic societies”.

The headlines include “Trump calls media enemy of the people” and “Putin shuts down Russia’s largest news agency”.

A large screen on the Helsinki Music Centre bears the message: “Mr. President, welcome to the land of the free press”.

Kaius Niemi editor-in-chief of Helsingin Sanomat said: “This is a statement on behalf of critical and high quality journalism.

“As we welcome the presidents to the summit in Finland, we want to remind them of the importance of free press.

He added: “The media shouldn’t be the lap dog of any president or regime.

“We want to show our support to those colleagues who have to fight in ever toughening circumstances on a daily basis both in the US and Russia.

“Our goal is to raise the topic of the freedom of the press around the world.”

Ahead of today’s summit with Putin, Trump reiterated his view of the press tweeting: “Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people.”

Last week Trump described an interview he did with The Sun as “fake news”, before seeming to later backtrack, and refused questions from CNN during a press conference with Theresa May.

Russia is currently ranked 148 on the World Press Freedom Index while the US is 45th.

Despite Finland being ranked fourth, Niemi said: “We need to work harder to ensure press freedom in Finalnd”.

Picture: Reuters/Lehtikuva/Aleksi Tuomola