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Helsinki deputy mayor caught painting illegal graffiti

HELSINKI — A Helsinki deputy mayor was left red-faced after getting caught spraying graffiti at the weekend, an endeavor that cost €3,500 ($3,834) to clean up, officials said Tuesday.

Guards caught Paavo Arhinmaki, 46, and a friend just after the pair finished their graffiti on a railway tunnel wall in Vantaa, southern Finland on Friday evening, during Finland's traditional Midsummer celebrations.

The graffiti included the lines "world domination and great career movez."

Regional maintenance manager Eero Liehu from the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency told AFP the clean-up took more than three hours.

Arhinmaki, responsible for culture and leisure in the Finnish capital, apologized in a Facebook post Saturday.

"It was a really silly thing for me and for us to do. Somehow I've been lulled into thinking that you can paint on those kinds of grey concrete walls that have already been painted on and that are out of sight," he wrote.

"It was completely thoughtless. And it was stupid to paint there as there are permitted walls too."

Helsinki mayor Juhana Vartiainen was unimpressed.

"Deputy mayor Arhinmaki's action in this case has been ill-considered," Vartiainen said in a statement to AFP, adding that he had been in touch with Arhinmaki.

"He understands the severity of the situation," he said.

Police are investigating the case under the offences of property damage and disruption of rail traffic.

Arhinmaki told Finnish media he did not think his actions were so severe that he could not continue in his role.

On Facebook, he explained that his enthusiasm for graffiti goes back to his childhood in Pasila, a neighborhood in Helsinki once known for its brutalist architecture, now a bustling office and transportation hub.

"In the middle there are the high-rise buildings of Pasila and in the background the silhouette of Pasila," he said, describing the graffiti which was removed on Monday.

Arhinmaki is a former MP and leader of the Left Alliance. He served as minister for culture and sport between 2011-2014. — Agence France-Presse