Friday, January 17, 2020

Helsinki to Investigate Fate of Hundreds of Thousands of Finns who Died in Stalin Era

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 14 – Between 1917 and 1953, the vast majority of the 400,000 Finns, Karels and Ingermanlanders living outside of Finland but within the Russian Federation disappeared, with many of them presumed to have been killed as a result of Soviet policies.  The Finnish government has now announced that it plans to investigate their fates.

            This research effort is scheduled to begin in August and be completed by the end of July 2025. The Finnish government has allocated two million euros (2.5 million US dollars) for the project which it decided to launch after a major expose on this issue by Helsingin Sanomat in August 2019 (

            This is one of the most sensitive issues in Finnish-Russian relations, and Helsinki’s decision to go ahead with research on it not only guarantees that Finns are going to learn far more than they knew before about the horrors visited on their co-nationals by the Soviets but ensures that tensions between Moscow and Helsinki are likely to increase.

            Perhaps especially important is the fact that Helsinki is not limiting its effort to tracking down those who identified as Finns but also considering the fate of two related groups, the Ingermanlanders and the Karels, the surviving members of each of which can be expected to make use of this research to press their own goals.

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