https://www.bbc.com/-Image source, Reuters
Sanna Marin said the topless photo of her guests should not have been taken – but otherwise her party was normal
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has apologised for a topless photo of guests at her official residence.
It comes days after she deflected accusations of having an excessive party lifestyle, by voluntarily taking a drug test – which came back clean.
The latest photo, of two well-known influencers, was taken inside the prime minister’s residence in July and widely shared on social media on Tuesday.
Ms Marin admitted “the picture is not appropriate” and apologised.
In it, two women can be seen kissing each other covering up their bare chests with an official-looking sign reading “Finland”.
On Monday, Ms Marin said the party at her official residence in Helsinki, Kesaranta, happened after the Ruisrock music festival in July. Finnish media report that the photo was taken in the downstairs toilets used by guests.
“We had sauna, swam and spent time together,” Ms Marin said. “That kind of a picture should not have been taken but otherwise, nothing extraordinary happened at the get-together,” she added.
The 36-year-old, who came to power in 2019, was until recently the world’s youngest prime minister.
The current political drama surrounding her comes as Finland navigates its bid to join the Nato military alliance and responds to its neighbour Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Sanna Marin has made no secret of enjoying normal activities such as going clubbing with friends and attending the music festival in July, despite criticism from some corners of Finnish public life.
But in recent weeks, pressure from her political peers and opponents ramped up after a video emerged of her dancing and partying.
She agreed to take the drug test after senior opposition politicians argued there was a “shadow of doubt” hanging over her, despite her insistence that she had never taken drugs and was not compromised beyond drinking some alcohol.
In common with several other EU states, Helsinki has backed restricting tourist visas for Russians, as many continue to cross into Finland on its long eastern border.
But the recent revelations have meant that Ms Marin’s personal life has been the focus, rather than her policy agenda.
The reaction in Finland has been mixed.
Deputy Prime Minister Annika Saarikko said she recognised the wall in the photo as being from the prime minister’s residence, and suggested the partying lifestyle conveyed by the photo did not match the experience of many Finns struggling with a cost of living crisis.
But, she added, it was not her place to be a “moral guardian” of others.
Many ordinary Finns, meanwhile, have expressed support for the prime minister for having what most younger people consider to be a normal, relatable life for a younger woman, outside of her high-pressure public office.
Many have taken to social media to post photos of themselves dancing and partying as a show of support.