Finnish leader apologizes for party photo in summer house

Copenhagen, Denmark — The Finnish prime minister apologized after the publication of a photo of two women kissing and posing topless in the official summer residence of the country’s leader.

The photo came out after a video of Prime Minister Sanna Marin dancing and singing with friends sparked a debate over whether the 36-year-old head of government is entitled to a hearty party.

Marin confirmed that the photo was taken in a bathroom in an official residence of Finnish prime ministers after a music festival in early July. Marin does not appear in the image; the two women pictured have their breasts covered with a sign that reads ‘Finland’.

One of the women, described as a social media influencer, reportedly posted the photo, which was removed shortly after news outlets started reporting it.

“In my opinion, that photo is not appropriate, my apologies for that. That photo should not have been taken,” Marin told Finnish broadcaster YLE on Tuesday.

She said the gathering after the festival was a private party and the names of all the guests were passed on to the security agency that oversees Kesäranta’s property, located in the northern part of Helsinki.

The two-storey wooden villa from 1873 has a seaside sauna, pavilion, jetty and tennis court.

“We used the sauna facilities and the garden, but we didn’t spend time in the Kesäranta house, although the guest toilets downstairs were in use,” Marin said according to YLE.

On Wednesday, the prime minister addressed a crowd in the southern Finnish city of Lathi, citing glimpses of her private life that have become public.

“I’m human too,” Finnish media quoted Marin in a broken voice and red eyes. She added that she had never failed to attend a single work assignment because she took time off.

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“I do my job. I learn from that,” says Marin. “This week hasn’t been easy. It’s been hard. But I want to believe that people look at the work we do, not what we do in our spare time.”

In the video leaked last week, Marin appeared with friends at another private party. She has acknowledged that she and her friends celebrated the party in a “rambunctious manner” and that alcohol was involved, but no drugs to her knowledge.

Marin said she’s been attending the party for the past few weeks, but declined to say exactly where and when. She said Friday she was taking a drug test to end speculation about illegal substance use. The results were negative, Marin reported Monday, adding that she had paid for the test herself.

One of Finland’s main newspapers, Helsingin Sanomat, reported that with general elections scheduled for next year, frustration is mounting among members of the Prime Minister’s Social Democratic Party.

While no one talks about pressuring Marin to resign and she remains popular within the party, some members interviewed by the paper were critical of her judgment amid the war in Ukraine and Finland’s ongoing bid to to become a member of NATO.

An anonymously quoted party member Helsingin Sanomat noted that Finland is still a relatively conservative country, especially outside the capital region.

Marin heads a five-party government coalition and has been credited with steadfastly guiding the country through the COVID-19 pandemic and NATO’s application process.

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