Finland’s prime minister and other government members have apologised for not isolating a parliament party member after he exposed himself in front of other men in a Helsinki nightclub.
Keita Ryhimäki, 43, the youngest member of the government, has said he exposed himself to a woman, then to several other men, at a club on Tuesday night.
Ryhimäki told Finnish public broadcaster YLE that he had been drinking at the club and had decided to get undressed while walking back to his room after one man recognised him.
“I just decided to bring my shorts up and said to the men ‘come and see the lad’,” he said.
“Now there are questions about what is the best to do. If you hit him or if you don’t hit him, where do you stop?”
While walking back to his room he claimed he was assaulted by several men, at which point he told them: “Get the f*** out of my hotel room.”
The minister for transport said she had held her own meeting with Ryhimäki, but media images showed that she had not been separated from her colleague when they left the room.
“It’s a big shame that we hadn’t planned it. People are very upset,” Communications Minister Mika Verni and other government ministers said after a meeting with Ryhimäki.
Ryhimäki told YLE he had received a stern warning from several male parliament members.
“Even though I haven’t proven any wrongdoing, I understand that they are certainly right to be worried,” he said.
Finland’s culture minister, Antti Rinne, told broadcaster YLE he had never seen such a scene in his 25 years as a lawmaker.
“This is shocking, a shame for our country and the government,” he said.
Ryhimäki told YLE he had made a mistake that had badly humiliated a woman and his situation had not allowed him to behave in the correct way.
“I deeply regret my behaviour towards the woman and I regret that what I did seems to have been a disgrace, that it’s easy to play it off,” he said.
Ryhimäki, a member of the right-wing Nordic Democratic Party, is one of only two Cabinet ministers to make his political career from the party, founded in 2013 by anti-immigration members of the former nationalist Finnish Social Democratic Party.
Ryhimäki was first elected to parliament in 2014.