Finnish police 'regrets' putting Putin on criminal blacklist

Finland's police force said Thursday it regretted putting Russian President Vladimir Putin on an internal list of criminal suspects, calling it a "serious error".

"The police committed a mistake when placing the name of Russian President Putin in its database of suspects," the police service said in a statement.

"There was no legal reason for doing this, and the police regrets the improper use of the list."

According to the statement, the Russian leader's name was added to the database about two weeks ago and was deleted on Wednesday after the issue was revealed by the local media.

It was a "serious error," Mikko Paatero, head of Finland's national police force, told public television channel YLE.

It was unclear how exactly Putin's name had been added, Paatero said, adding that the database was now being scrutinised to ensure the remaining names were there for legitimate reasons.

The database, which is not accessible to the public, contains the names of people suspected of having committed or taken part in crimes punishable by at least six months in jail.

Finland has a delicate relationship with neighbouring Russia, given a long and complex history that includes two wars in 1939-1940 and 1941-1944.

Despite this background, economic ties are important. For example, Finland has recently mulled buying a Russian-designed reactor for a planned nuclear facility.