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A Finnish Paper Is Trolling Trump And Putin About Press Freedom Before Their Big Meeting

"We want to remind them of the importance of free press. The media shouldn't be the lapdog of any president or regime."

Posted on July 16, 2018, at 1:23 a.m. ET

Before US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet for their controversial summit Monday in Helsinki, they'll be greeted with quite a few pointed welcome messages across Finland's capital city.

In advance of the summit, Finland's largest newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, has created and erected about 300 billboards with headlines calling out both leaders for their "turbulent relations with the media," it said in a press release.

As we welcome the presidents to the summit in Helsinki, we @hsfi want to remind them of the importance of free press. 300 billboards on the routes from the airport to the summit are filled with news headlines regarding presidents’ attitude towards the pressfreedom. #HELSINKI2018 https://t.co/KmYJtLyeNE

The signs have been placed along the leaders' route from the airport to their meeting, the paper said, and are part of a campaign to "stand for the freedom of the press."

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Hanging in airport terminals, above bus stop benches, and from large buildings overlooking local parks, the messages are in both Russian and English, pulled from articles published by the paper between 2000 and 2018.

"Trump furious over leaks and blames media for complicating meeting with Putin," one billboard, quoting a headline from Feb. 16, 2017, reads.

Another, from a 2004 story, reads, "Russian reporter who criticized Putin gains asylum in Britain."

"This is a statement on behalf of critical and high-quality journalism," Helsingin Sanomat's editor-in-chief, Kaius Nieme, said in the statement. "We want to remind them of the importance of free press. The media shouldn't be the lapdog of any president or regime."

The campaign is also meant to support journalism "colleagues who have to fight in ever-toughening circumstances on a daily basis both in the US and Russia," he added, highlighting both the US and Russia rankings on the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.

Russia is ranked 148th on the list. And Finland is ranked fourth, well above the US at 45th, Nieme noted, adding that Trump "has raised hatred toward critical media among his supporters."

Billboard campaign by Finland’s number newspaper Helsingin Sanomat in Helsinki Some reading material for Putin & his puppet Trump #Helsinki https://t.co/HKy8AkI0kT

People snapped photos of the stark black and white billboards and posted them on social media, commending Helsingin Sanomat for its pertinent trolling.

Nothing to add. I tip my hat to you Helsingin Sanomat. #helsinginsanomat #finland #landoffreepress

Saw this in the town and I'm still reeling... Helsingin Sanomat is a newspaper in Finland and these were put up just in time for Trumps visit 😂😂😂 https://t.co/ukbcqjdol3

"Go big or go home," this user wrote.

Good for Helsingin Sanomat in advance of Trump-Putin summit in Finland. Go big or go home! https://t.co/yfdcLi2ZRu

Helsingin sanomat aloitti kummallisen mainoskamppanjan Helsingissä https://t.co/Y7JbICMMy7

#TrumpPutinHelsinki More ads by Finland's largest newspaper Helsingin Sanomat

Incidentally, as Trump made his way to Finland Sunday, he launched into yet another Twitter rant against the press, calling the media "the enemy of the people" and complaining that "no matter how well" the summit goes "it will never be good enough."

Heading to Helsinki, Finland – looking forward to meeting with President Putin tomorrow. Unfortunately, no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia...

"This is why there is such hatred and dissension in our country," he wrote. But, he added optimistically, "at some point, it will heal!"

...know how to do is resist and obstruct! This is why there is such hatred and dissension in our country – but at some point, it will heal!

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