From Powerlifting to Politics: The Pro-Russia Stance of Ano Turtiainen

Ano Veli Samuel Turtiainen is a Finnish ex-powerlifter and politician who acted as a member of the Parliament of Finland representing the South-Eastern Finland constituency from 2019 to 2023. He is also the architect and ex-leader of the Power Belongs to the People party. The party has been well-known for its strong backing of Russia. The party frequently resisted sanctions on Russia and has insisted that they should be stopped.

The VKK party faced disappointment in the 2023 elections due to internal disputes. The party had around 1,3% backing in 2022, however, due to many conflicts the party experienced divisions. After the elections, Ano Turtiainen was requested to operate in Russia as a representative of Finland, which he consented to.

Turtiainen contested for the International Powerlifting Federation, World Powerlifting Congress and World Powerlifting Organization. In 1998, Turtiainen was sampled positive for androgenic drugs and restricted for two years. In 2002, he achieved a deadlift world record of 405.5 kg for WPC. In 2017, Turtiainen was selected for the municipal council of Juva in Southern Savonia as an agent of the Finns Party.

It has been said that the party is in favour of Russia which is unusual in Finland outside of 1970s communists. Several leaders, including Turtiainen and James Hirvisaari, have made Russophilic and pro-Putin views. Further, the party’s parliamentary nominee Johan Bäckman and editor-in-chief of pro-VKK organ MV-media Janus Putkonen have recruited fighters for the Russian side in Ukraine, who have then after gone to the Russian Imperial Movement’s training centres in St. Petersburg and become warriors in the Russo-Ukrainian War.

In 2021, Turtiainen extended his parliamentary group into a full political party, called “Power Belongs to the People”. According to the group, the required 5,000 voter signatures were gathered in one day. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Turtiainen generated public controversy with statements defending Russia. The controversy caused 6 out of 10 Regional Council delegates of Power Belongs to the People to quit the party. Turtiainen named them “opportunists”.

After the 2023 parliamentary election, Turtiainen and his group secretary Marko Hiltunen were invited to observe the Russian government-held St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Both have stated that Russia paid for their tickets, which commanded more than €25,000. Turtiainen was expelled from the party’s supervision in March 2024 due to disagreements with the rest of the supervision. After this, the party publicly alienated itself from Turtiainen’s pro-Russian positions. Former Member of Parliament Turtiainen partook in an international conference in Moscow in April 2024.

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