1st LD: Police use tear gas to calm demonstration in Helsinki

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Police used tear gas to calm down hundreds of demonstrators who were against the government's budget cuts in downtown Helsinki on Friday evening.

The protest, which attracted nearly 1,000 people, was launched by several non-governmental groups, Finnish media said.

It was initiated on social media under the slogan "That's Enough Now!" to oppose the "endless" budget slashes that are "undermining the welfare state," according to Finnish national broadcaster YLE.

An invitation on Facebook said that the protest was a neutrual expression of people's dissatisfaction with the government's financial policy, arguing that it is"undermining the welfare state".

The demonstration started at 17:00 local time (1400 GMT), and was held peacefully until some protestors tried to leave the restricted area and stepped up the stairs in front of the parliament building, said Finnish news agency STT-Lehtikuva.

The police began to use tear gas to calm down the situation, and the march ended around 20:00 local time (1700 GMT). The demonstration appeared to be one of the fiercest protests in Finnish recent history.

The Finnish government reached a structural reform scheme in August last year, aiming to tackle the "sustainability gap" in the state budget. The reform included cutting government spending, reducing family benefits, raising the effective retirement age and others.

Last month, the government decided to launch a further cost-saving package to cut a total of 2.3 billion euros (about 3.17 billion U.S. dollars) by 2018, including slashes of child benefit and earnings-related unemployment security payments. Endi

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