HELSINKI -- When it comes to maintaining cordial cross-border relations, a good way to start is by not placing the president of your nearest neighbor on an official list of malefactors, which is what Finland did, but then right quickly undid to keep from pissing off the 600-pound bear that sleeps right next door. According to Reuters:
Finland apologized to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday after its police accidentally put him on a blacklist of people with connections to criminal activity.
OK, first, "accidentally?!" Yeah right. I don't suppose the Finnish police are the world's most sophisticated agency. CBS never considered airing CSI: Lappland, even though the reindeer chase scenes were by all accounts, "epic." But come on -- no national police force keeps a secret black book of bad-deed-doers and adds a name to it on accident. Sez me, someone high enough up in the Finnish cop ranks to have access to the list added Putin on purpose, and probably for good reason. Rumors swirl around the man like flies around a severed horse head and everyone from the CIA to MI6 to Interpol (not the band) to the Helsinki Crossing Guards Union knows Vlad the Bad has, in his decades of despotism, done some pretty nasty stuff.
Second, does Vladimir Putin really care if he's on a Finnish blacklist? Putin's the sort of guy who wears his infamy with pride. I doubt he lost a moment's sleep worried that the Finns might hold him in less than the highest regard. Vladimir Putin would be well within his terrifying rights to reject their apology with the disdain befitting a cold-blooded strongman.
(Courtesy of Sam Derse, http://vladimirputinactioncomics.tumblr.com)
And third, silly though it all is, Finland really had no choice but to apologize since Finland has no business stepping to Vladimir Putin. Vladimir Putin scares Chuck Norris. Vladimir Putin goes boar hunting with a stick. The man injured a rock, murdered a stone. He's a deadly, one-man wrecking crew in charge of the world's largest nuclear arsenal and a handsome desperado to boot. Vladimir Putin could consume Finland with his fiery breath, to say nothing of his armed forces and their scary ex-Soviet bosses itching for a fight.
So much for East European statecraft, what I'm really interested in is this: Just who else is included in the Finnish blacklist and what did they do to get in there? Are we talking about international crime-lord sorts, like your Carlos the Jackals and Pablo Escobars? Or are we talking about mostly home-grown Finns with somewhat gangster-sounding monikers like Paavo "The Flying Finn" Nurmi and Jean "The Big Wand" Sibelius?
I want to read the list myself. I think the Finns should make it public. I bet Dick Cheney's on it. Darth makes it on all the leading blacklists, along with Mahmoud Ahmadine-Expialidocious and Kim Jong-haircut. It's not even a secret list, not anymore. We know Finland keeps a blacklist. We should know whose names are on that list. Right is right. I demand to know who Finnish authorities think they need to keep an eye on.
I expect my demands might go unmet for a while, so in the meantime, here's Vladimir Putin showing his appreciation of a recent protest: