Friday, March 27, 2009

Different Russias

Writing in the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti, its editor-in-chief Tuomas Keskinen comments that Russian occupation has meant different things for Finland and Estonia. Sweden's defeat by Russia in 1809 and the subsequent treaty that transformed Finland into a Grand Duchy turned out to be a relative blessing for the country after 400 years of Swedish rule. On the other hand, Russia's occupation of Estonia, which Stalin began in the autumn of 1939, was of a wholly different order, and represented an illegal takeover analogous to the land-grabs practiced by the Nazis in Europe earlier in the decade.  Keskinen says that the publication  of Sofi Oksanen and Imbi Paju's new book, Kaiken takana oli pelko (Fear was behind everything, WSOY, 2009), will help Finns to understand the horrors that were experienced by the people of their smaller neighbour to the south.

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