Tervetuloa Suomeen!

Petersburg residents grabbed up all the appointments in July to apply for a Schengen visa at the Finnish visa center in the city after it was reported that all restrictions on crossing the border would be lifted.

Finland lifted all anti-covid restrictions on entering the country on June 30, and visa restrictions were lifted on July 1. The scheduling of appointments for processing visa applications was opened a month in advance, and in four days Petersburgers booked all the slots for dates up to and including July 29, writes Petersburg Patrol, citing a source in the visa center.

The source at the visa center could not rule out that “the management [would] add additional slots.” Usually, appointments to apply for visas were scheduled a week in advance.

Before the hype, Petersburgers who previously held two-year Schengen visas were issued them again without any problems.

The Finnish Interior Ministry conjectured that the lifting of restrictions would increase traffic from non-EU countries, in particular, on its eastern border, while the desire of Russians to visit Finland and the number of valid visas issued to Russian nationals would affect the volume of traffic.

Tour operators believe otherwise: the flow of tourists from the Russian Federation will be affected by difficulties with obtaining visas and exchanging currency. Aleksan Mkrtchyan, vice-president of the Alliance of Travel Agencies, noted that the opening of the land border is “certainly a good thing,” from which Finland and residents of Petersburg and the Leningrad Region would benefit. However, it would be Russians who already hold a valid Schengen visa who would be the first to go to Finland, he said.

“It is almost impossible to get a Finnish visa in the near future—[appointments at the visa center] are booked out almost till the end of August,” Mkrtchyan told Interfax.

Petersburgers will be able to travel in large numbers to Finland from July 15—the day on which Russia removes all restrictions on crossing the border, which were introduced in March 2020 due to Covid-19. Upon returning to the country from abroad, Russians will still have to take a PCR test.

In Finland, citizens of non-EU countries have not been required to have a vaccination certificate or a coronavirus test since July 1. Coronavirus testing will also no longer be carried out at border crossings.

Source: Delovoi Peterburg, 5 July 2022. Still from Veep courtesy of US News. Translated by the Russian Reader

The city of Lappeenranta would be prepared, if necessary, to offer its airport as a NATO base: “It will certainly be available if the Defense Forces so wish”

Lappeenranta has not discussed with the Finnish Defense Forces what investments would be involved in possible NATO membership, but in theory the city would welcome them.

A Ryanair jet plane on the tarmac at Lappeenranta Airport, 2 August 2019. Photo by the Russian Reader

The city of Lappeenranta aims to get the maximum benefit if Finland joins NATO.

Political decision-makers and officials in Lappeenranta have expressed the hope that, with membership, even a NATO base could be established in Lappeenranta.

According to Lappeenranta’s city manager, Kimmo Jarva, the idea has come about at a time when the debate on joining NATO has been lively, and because South Karelia is located on the frontier between Europe and Russia.

There has been no discussion of the matter in defense policy circles, nor has there been any discussion with the Defense Forces. However, the city of Lappeenranta hopes that the Defense Forces will make investments in South Karelia due to NATO membership.

“I’ve heard conjectures about the airport, among other things. I’m sure it’s available if the military would like it. As for whether there will be any changes in the locations of the Army Academy and the Defense Forces, I cannot say as I’m a layman,” Jarva says.

According to Jarva, the progress of Finland’s NATO membership bid has given hope to the whole of South Karelia. It brings a sense of security and confidence to companies, for example.

“Companies, for example, believe this is a stable environment. This has been the case all along, but it brings a sense of security and can encourage investments in the region,” Jarva says.

He believes the war will eventually end and ordinary people will again travel across the eastern border.

“NATO membership does not preclude the movement of ordinary people, after things are sorted out first,” Jarva hopes.

Source: Tanja Hannus, Yle Uutiset, 30 June 2022. Translated, from the Finnish, by the Russian Reader

Living Suitcase (Lenin in Finland)

lenin-1“In the manner of Arkady Rylov, Difficult Journey. Oil on Canvas. Pargas Local History Museum. [Vladimir Lenin] was one of the ‘living suitcases’ of Finnish smugglers. Lenin fled to Finland just before Christmas 1907 after an unsuccessful attempt to begin a revolution in Saint Petersburg. Before continuing to Sweden, he spent a couple of nights hiding in Parainen, in the Kirjala manor. He introduced himself as ‘Doktor Müller,’ a German geologist. The Pargas Local History Museum received this work for its Lenin memorial room in 1969 from the Finland-Soviet Peace and Friendship Society.” The painting is currently on view at the South Karelia Art Museum in Lappeenranta, Finland, as part of the exhibition Barefoot: 10 Lives in the Karelian Isthmus, which runs until January 2016. Photo by Comrade VZ. Quoted text, above, reproduced from the exhibition signage


lenin-4“V.I. Lenin spoke at a conference of Russian social democrats in this building in August 1907.” Kotka Concert Hall, August 2015. Photo by Comrade VZ

lenin-5“This building, designed by Eliel Saarinen, was completed in 1907. It was destroyed in a bombing raid on July 6, 1941, and rebuilt in 1954.” Kotka Concert Hall, August 2015. Photo by Comrade VZ

800px-Kotkan_konserttitalo_2Kotka Concert Hall. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

A Journey Back in Time to the Isthmus

Old Pictures of the Isthmus Can Be Admired on the Net
Riina Nokso-Koivisto
May 30, 2015

Lappeenranta eighth-graders Elina Lattu, Karoliina Suomalainen, Aino Keijonen, Henna Muukka, Henna Helsiaho, Edith Kauppinen, and Sofia Östman were involved in planning the online exhibition. Photo by Mika Stranden


The South Karelia Museum and the South Karelia Art Museum have opened a new online exhibition on the topic of the Karelian Isthmus. It can be accessed at www.aikamatkakannakselle.fi.

Extensive information on the Isthmus region—for example, old photographs and maps—has been assembled for the exhibition.

The exhibition is primarily intended to cater to school children, which is why young people’s views have been solicited since the beginning of the design process. A group of eighth graders from Lappeenranta’s Kesämäenrinne School and their teacher, Anu Sihvo, promised to help.

The students hoped, among other things, that instead of long texts the online exhibition would contain lots of pictures.

“In addition, we proposed that some games would be involved,” Elina Lattu says.

“And questions on the topic, which you can use to revise what you have read,” Henna Muukka adds.

The exhibition, Time Travel to the Isthmus, is based partly on the major exhibition Barefoot: 10 Lives in the Karelian Isthmus, which is currently on view at the South Karelia Museum and South Karelia Art Museum. Scripted by Anna Kortelainen, Barefoot is based on ten life stories, which are also recounted in the online show. The online exhibition has been scripted by Pauliina Veijalainen.

Time Travel to the Isthmus, however, will function independently.

“In a traditional show, the perspective must be strictly limited. In the online show, we have, instead, the opportunity to present broader knowledge of the Isthmus region,” says curator Mona Taipale.

On the Time Travel to the Isthmus website one can find, among other things, old photographs from all over the Isthmus, drawn from the South Karelia Museum’s collection. The history section, for example, contains a map of the parishes or rural municipalities (pitäjät) that made up the Isthmus during the period of Finnish rule.

Pitajarajat-karttaThe parishes of the Karelian Isthmus under Finnish rule. Map courtesy of www.aikamatkakannakselle.fi

Online exhibition texts will also be available in Russian and English. Hence they can be used in history and language curriculum locally, nationally, and internationally. When the actual Isthmus exhibition wraps up early next year, the online exhibition will continue to function.

The site adapts to different environments, so it can be used on a tablet or smart phone in addition to a computer.

Translated from the Finnish by the Russian Reader. The text of the article has been slightly enhanced in a couple of instances to make it more comprehensible to non-Finnish readers.