Speech by Professor Alpo Rusi in Tallinn in the Museum of the Occupation, December 4, 2017 at 17:00
The Cold War History of Finland in Perspective - Research of Finlandisation or Not?
My country will celebrate its centennial of independence day after tomorrow. On the one hand it is time to celebrate the national unity and great achievements and remember the veterans. On the other hand a test of any civilized nation is its capacity to know the truth about its history.
It is my intention to discuss the Cold War history of Finland and to elaborate also the concept of finlandisation. Former Prime Minister of Estonia Mart Laar encouraged Finns to discuss finlandisation in his interview in Aamulehti in 2007. In his view there is no reason to hide the fact that Finland had to flatter the Soviet union in the 1970s and later on. Among the experts of security affairs it was discussed after the annexation of Crimea by Russia that finlandisation could be a security policy solution for Ukraine in the future. I think that this proposal was one of the misinterpretations concerning finlandisation and a one more argument for the clarification of the history of Finland during the Cold War.
First I would like to stress that as a concept finlandisation is a subject of controversy. President Tarja Halonen stated in her speech in 2000 that we should not speak about finlandisation because our foreign policy during the Cold War was a success story. No doubt our foreign policy was as such a success story. However, finlandisation is also a fact in a sense that the relationship between a small and democratic country and a big power with nuclear arsenals and communist political system cannot be ”friendly” by definition. In our case the relationship was defined in the so called Treaty on Friendship signed in 1948 to keep Finland inside the sphere of interest of the Soviet union.
Halonen tried to say that despite this complex relationship with the Soviet union Finland managed to survive as an independent and democratic country. Nobody can disagree with her on this point but this is not the whole truth. Parallel with the success story we have to tell another story. Russian Ambassador Juri Derjabin, who had served in Tehtaankatu already during the 1970s, in his last interview by Jussi Niemeläinen of Helsingin Sanomat in 2012 stated that the aim of the Soviet union was to keep Finland under control. He added that ”finlandisation was a two way road”. ”There were Finns who used the Moscow card to promote their careers”, he went on. Max Jakobson stated in 2004, that ”the elite was finlandized but the citizens turned towards the West”. Jakobson can be criticized but he was certainly not totally wrong either.
One of the big problems in Finland is related to the lack of legislation with respect to the archives covering the Cold War period. Furthermore, the Security Police(Supo) is not controlled efficiently by the Parliament because it has been traditionally ”the police of the president”. The relationship between Supo and the KGB should be better researched. Based on the Vasili Mitrohin archives, the head of Supo Arvo Pentti was identified as a confidential contact of the KGB with the code name ”Mauri” in 1972. His task was to cooperate with the KGB to spy activities of Nato in Finland. Furthermore, Supo seems to have been tasked to track ”antisovjetism” in the media, foreign ministry and other institutions.
The advisor of Supo on History issues, professor Kimmo Rentola has tried to diminish the role of the Mitrohin archives, or other revelations, but his background as a former communist may diminish his own role as a credible Judge of these type of archives. Pentti himself did not want to become head of Supo because of his close relations with the Soviet embassy but President Kekkonen made the decision to appoint Pentti against Pentti’s own will in 1972.
The third problem concerning the research of the Cold War espionage archives is related to Supo’s own sources of information. Most of the key politicians maintained close contacts both with the Warsaw Pact diplomats having background in the security services but also had their contacts with Supo in order to avoid illegal behavior. These politicians have openly told about their ”home Russians”-so ”kotiryssät”- like former Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen last Saturday in YLE Morning News. He legitimized his own Russia-connections during the Cold War. Jakobson’s comment came to my mind when watching Lipponen’s interview.
In order to understand the conditions during the years from 1944 to 1992, one has to to find connections between that period and the history before the outbreak of WW2 and the outcome of the Continuation war.
Geopolitics is one of the most permanent factors related to the international status of nations. The Baltic states and Finland as neighbors of Russia know this very well.
The international developments were against the durability of the independent status of the smaller states in Europe soon after the end of the World War I. The League of Nations never really became the structure of peace. The conflict between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Soviet union brought geopolitics back to the Baltic sea region again in the middle of 1930s. The independence of the five nations of the region achieved after the WWI were endangered as a result of this conflict. One can question whether the collapse of the efforts to establish a military alliance between those five nations in Warsaw in March 1922 decisively facilitated the tragic destiny of them as indicated Professor Kalevi Holsti in his remarkable essay about foreign policy of his father,foreign minister of Finland, Rudolf Holsti . He was an architect of that treaty and foreign policy of Finland in the 1920s.
A Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty was fatal to the destiny of the signature states of the original Warsaw 1922 Treaty of cooperation. In the 1930s Finland wanted to strengthen its status as a neutral and nordic state. However, the Soviet union feared that Finland would sign a military agreement with Germany. During his second term as foreign minister 1936-38 Holsti understood that a diplomatic solution to eliminate the Soviet paranoia should be found in case Finland could not have en external military assistance either with a military alliance with Sweden and primarily with Great Britain and France.
The collapse of the European security system was finalized with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty on August 23rd of 1939 and World War two boroke out on 1st of the same year leading to end of Poland’s independence. The Baltic states and Finland became victims of that treaty too. The Winter war broke out on November 30. The aim of Stalin was to annex Finland to the Soviet system by using the Kuusinen government that was set up on December 1, as a political bridge for the
Red Army to march to Helsinki in two weeks. This plan may have been agreed as one of the roadmaps between Stalin and Kuusinen already in June 1939, as a Russian historian Mihail Semirjaga stated in 1989.
After the Winter war Finland did not have but two dangerous alternatives. Either to accept de facto a military and political occupation of the Soviet union because the second Winter War would have been fatal. The Baltic states were annexed to the Soviet union in July 1940 and therefore Prime Minister Risto Ryti decided to start approaching Germany for military cooperation, which was considered to remain as a last resort to defend against the imminent threat of the Soviet invasion.
No doubt that history needs to be constantly if not entirely re-written but at least re-researched in case new revelations and archives are found. The Continuation War was indeed the continuation of the Winter War. In my dissertation of 1982 with the title ”Press Censorship in the Continuation War”, there is a quotation of Mannerheim who angrily stated in February 1944 that ”time has come to negotiate any peace deal with the Soviets” but ”the government has not made its task to prepare the citizens to accepting of the bad terms of the peace deal”. In Mannerheim’s view there were not better terms to be achieved in the future. However, there was no alternative but to continue the war with an increasing risk to loose the independence of Finland or at least to face heavy losses and even more dangerous peace terms. As head of the armed forces he had recognized already months before the strategic change of the war. Germany was about to be beaten by the Allied forces sooner or later.
Finland managed to get rid of the war at a critical state of the war. The red army had also lost too many soldiers and tanks as well as airplanes during the fierce battles in the Summer weeks in 1944 against the Finnish army and needed to pacify its North-Western front for the final battles in Germany.
The end result of the Continuation War constituted a geopolitical reality for Finland’s foreign policy during the the Cold War era. There were no real alternatives but to sort out relations with the Soviet neighbor bilaterally. After the treaty on co-operation and mutual assistance (YYA) was dictated by Stalin but also to a certain extent deleted by President J.K.Paasikivi in April 1948. Finland’s security was connected not only to the goodwill of the Soviet leaders but also to the military balance between the Soviet union and the Western powers,with other words Nato. The YYA Treaty was for the Soviets the basis for a gradual process to incorporate Finland to the Moscow-led world system. On the other hand Finland used the Treaty long time as a buffer against the efforts of the Soviet Union to dissociate Finland from the West. Neutrality was the goal in order to say no to the Soviet demands.
After the invasion of the Warsaw Pact countries, in which the KGB played a major role, to crush the ”Prague Spring” in 1968, the Soviet Union started to increase the number of officers of the KGB in Finland which led to the emerging of finlandisation. The Soviet union realized after 1971 that a communist revolution was not possible in Finland and Kremlin started to focus on the main players of politics instead of mass movements. At the same time the KGB intensified its ”Quiet war” in Finland. I want to emphasize that the Soviet Union did not manage to destabilize the Finnish society, or prevent the Free Trade Agreement with the EC in 1973. To the contrary, Finland hosted the OSCE Summit in Helsinki 1975 which contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The influence of a ”Quiet war” can be identified in the early 21st century when Finland chose to stay outside Nato without any real domestic debate on the issue and started praising finlandisation as a success story instead. Without any doubt this is in the core of the so called ”Rusi case” too.
The main goals of the Soviet overt operations and ”active measures” were (1) to split the Finnish political parties, (2) object the notion ”neutrality” connected to Finland’s foreign policy,(3) object Finnish membership in Nato, the European Community and even the Council of Europe(Finland joined 1989), (4) fight anti-sovietism and promote pro- Soviet sentiments in the society, and (5) try to get the Finnish armed forces to have joint military exercises with the Red Army.
Finnish diplomats and politicians rejected accusations of finlandisation but based on the various archives, finlandisation was to a certain extent a fact . As a term finlandisation was in particular a result of the Soviet ”quiet war” was waged by the KGB with overt operations (public propaganda, disinformation) and covert operations (”active measures”). The media exercised self censorship but not fully obeyed the orders of the political elite. The KGB gave for example an order to use The Finnish-Russian Friendship Society to educate the Finns to become ”Soviet minded”.
As I already mentioned, the reality concerning the depth of the penetration of the KGB in the Finnish institutions remains still in many ways a secret because many key archives are closed. But not only the KGB but also other Warsaw Pact security services were active in Helsinki. The satellites were coordinating their activities with the KGB every second month in Tehtaankatu as a formed Stasi officer has revealed.
When the Berlin Wall collapsed , the former head of Stasi residentura in Helsinki Colonel Ingolf Freyer, OibE (Offizier in Besonderen Einsatz) escaped to West Germany early 1990 and gave a list of 20 Finnish Stasi contacts via BND to SUPO the Finnish security police. Freyer had worked as first secretary in Helsinki 1986-89 with the pseudo name Hans Pfeiler. The common working method was that the KGB and Stasi heads were holding meetings in Helsinki every second month to coordinate contacts and sharing information but also promoting active measures together. President Mauno Koivisto made the decision in July 1990 that no investigation should be opened . He either broke law or considered the list as a national security threat. The Administrative High Court decided 2010 that the list will be classified until 2050.
The Rusi case, being also a subject of my presentation, is related to the Stasi archives and to the secrets of the Cold War archives as such. Alpo Rusi was labeled by SUPO of having been a Stasi spy between 1969 and 1976, and committed to grave espionage a basis for life in prison. The mistake was based on the misinterpretation of the personal card written about ”Alpo Matti Rusi” for the register of interesting names stored by the foreign Intelligence of the German Ministry of Security on November 20, 1969. That card was inserted to the file of the code name ”Pekka”, opened on January 13, 1969 for my 15 years older brother,Jukka who worked as press secretary of the government since April 1968. Stasi wrote a personal card from him with a register number that was used for all those ones collected to the same operation code in 1965 an later on.
It was obvious from early on that something fundamentally was wrong when the official investigation was launched on May 13, 2002 and a leak to YLE evening news about the investigation took place on September 10, 2002. In the book The Footprints of Kremlin co-authored with Jarmo Korhonen, a political background of the Alpo Rusi Trial by Media has been tracked and explained.
The authors of the book have received new and crucial information from the inner circles of the political elite, Supo, media and also from officials in Germany and some other countries and the smoking gun as well as motives have been revealed.
The key findings of the book are the following ones:
1. Rosenholz-cards were handed over to Supo by CIA secretly in the course of the years 1994-1997 Alpo Rusi’s card included. He was not contacted properly as other cases early enough. His legal rights were broken from the outset.
2. The doubts were going around inside the political elite and media since early 1998 when Prime Minister’s advisor Timo Pesonen started spreading rumors about Supo’s espionage allegations concerning Alpo Rusi and ambassador Rene Nyberg.
3. Ahtisaari made mistakes not to ask Rusi about the allegations or not to demand Supo to request to approach Rusi if allegations would have had any factual basis.Most probably he feared a scandal that would damage his reputation.I want to refer to Willy Brandt.
4. Ahtisaari started withdrawing from the second term in the Spring 1999 for Supo’s operation against his advisor and after the Kosovo process in June. The Peter Castenfelt factor is discussed which during the summer months and up 2001 casted a shadow over Rusi but was a mistake by Supo too.
5. The official investigation was launched in May 2002 without any evidence about espionage, only based on a personal card drafted by a Stasi officer in 1969. The official investigation was launched in 2002 just to discredit Alpo Rusi so that he would not be able to run for a seat in the Parliament in 2003 and reveal anything about the years during the service in the office of the president from 1994 to 1999. In case the early leak of 1998 would have been revealed it would have casted a shadow over Prime Minister Lipponen with an option for a criminal investigation.
6. The legal processes 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and were based on wrong information, falsifications and pure lies in order to make it almost impossible to focus on the wrongdoings and political motives behind the ”Rusi case” before 2017.
Supo made the biggest mistake in Europe concerning Rosenholz material, as Professor Helmut Müller-Enbergs argues. He had cleared Alpo Rusi already to supo in January 2003,but was able to say this publicly 2006. Alpo Rusi was not a source or contact of Stasi, only a name in the card. Jukka Rusi was furious that his brother was accused because he had confessed his contact with GDR diplomats and also of handing over to them documents but not confidential material. ”Rubbish” as Peter Grimm, a stasi officer and deputy resident in Helsinki 1970-76 stated to Alpo Rusi in 2005. ”Jukka was a social contact and nothing to do with espionage”.
The existence of this card was misinterpreted and misused by Supo and its political collaborators for destabilizing the presidency of Martti Ahtisaari to the extent that he withdrew from running the second term in 1999. Does not matter whether Ahtisaari afterwards has said that he did not have any interest for the second term. Furthermore, Ahtisaari’s foreign policy was criticized of being too passive with respect to Russia and accused of smuggling Finland to Nato through a backstage.The influence of Russia was a factor in the Rusi case either indirectly or directly as the book argues.
The book has a chronological structure starting with the famous Zavidovo- leak in 1972 and ending with the most recent revelations so late as in 2017.
The book contains i.a. the following political arguments concerning the Rusi case:!
1. The Rusi case was needed to protect the political power game inside the
Social Democratic Party(SDP) since May 1993 when Martti Ahtisaari won a long time party chairman of SDP Kalevi Sorsa in a pre-election campaign for the post of the President of Finland.
2. Alpo Rusi, a trusted advisor of Ahtisaari, was not accepted by the elite of the SDP from the days of the pre-election campaign and was targeted finally with unfounded espionage allegations since 1997/1998 without his own knowledge.The book vindicates that the foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja played an important role for spreading of doubts. A number of ambassadors were informed before the investigation that ”Alpo Rusi will be sacked for espionage”.!
3. A number of serious and rather fresh espionage cases up 1990 were not investigated for political reasons and the book deals with some of these cases.
4. The German Stasi authority BSTU would have needed only 15 minutes to clarify that Alpo Rusi was not a spy. Yet this was done in January 2003 but Supo rejected the results of the clarification.
The book discusses the political power struggle in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in Finland in the 1990s.The role of the Russian Intelligence is not without influence. The Rusi case was related to the power struggle inside the Social Democrats (SDP) dating back to the presidential elections in 1994. The long time leader of the SDP Kalevi Sorsa was a ”confidential contact” of KGB since his election to the Secretary General of the SDP in 1969 which is proved in the book based on several and original documents.!
Sorsa had a strong motive to cause any cover for his own KGB- background as well as to revenge his loss to Ahtisaari in the SDP pre- election campaign in May 1993. Sorsa accused Ahtisaari’s ”mafia” for wrongdoings in his column on April 22,1999. It was a warning signal because he was informed about Supo’s allegations against Rusi. Supo chief Nevala was Sorsa’s former advisor during the years 1978-79 as Sorsa was Prime Minister. He was nominated chief of Supo in october 1996 by Ahtisaari. ”Finlandisation” was present in the 1990s and a Russian factor played a role.
It took years for Rusi to fight back his reputation. Supo and other officials as well as key media continued to label Rusi. Many years later, in 2009 ambassador Rusi won the state in the court but the background of the false espionage accusations were not revealed and they remained uncovered until 2017. In the course of the drafting of the book new and important revelations were received to find finally the truth about the political motives and background of the allegations. The legal and political conclusions are to be elaborated sometimes in the future. furthermore, a hybrid warfare by Russia against Finland has its roots in ”finlandisation” the opening of which is of crucial importance for the country’s and Europe’s security.
Finally, I would like to make the following three proposals:
1. All Stasi material received by Supo should be handed over to BSTU for research. BSTU cleaned my name and revealed several serious espionage cases with real names (Kati,Mantel, Larsen,Boris,Fortuna etc) that Supo wanted to keep closed. One of the cases ”Kati” was as a crime outdated in 2006 and not already 2002 as Supo publicly indicated that year. ”Kati” was former communist who was recruited for Stasi in 1979 in register XV/3000/79. ”Kati” worked for Stasi until 1986 with a relatively high pay and for many other lines of Stasi as well as for the KGB. In 2000 she was holding an important post for communication in the Central Labour Union (SAK).
2. A Finnish-Estonian research commission should be established for researching of the KGB and its satellite’s operations and cooperation during the Cold War in both of these countries.
3. The legislation concerning foreign security services archives should be introduced and harmonized with EU directives and legislative framework in Finland.
"The more you understand the world, the higher your chance of shaping it".
Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
Valtiotieteen tohtori, suurlähettiläs, tasavallan presidentin entinen neuvonantaja, professori ja kirjailija.
Kirjoituksia saa lainata. Lähde on mainittava.