Sunday, September 29, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Finn Who Criticized Moscow for 1939-1940 Winter War Detained in Moscow

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 29 – Russia’s detention and subsequent expulsion of a Helsinki lawyer who has written books sharply critical of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Finland in 1940 is part of a disturbing new Russian campaign that reflects Vladimir Putin’s view that the Winter War allowed Stalin to “correct” earlier Bolshevik mistakes about Soviet-Finnish border.

            On Friday evening, Kari Silvennoinen, a Finnish lawyer and the author of two books that criticize Moscow’s actions in 1939-1940, “Soviet Guilt” and “Soviet War Crimes Against Finland,” was arrested at a Moscow airport and kept without food and water for 14 hours before being expelled  (

            Russian officials, Silvennoinen told a Helsinki newspaper, “say that I have not been arrested but this is a locked room” ( “I was able to call my Russian partner in St Petersburg. He talked with the border guard officers, but even he could not find out what this was all about.” His partner suggested that it may have been designed to “scare off” Silvennoinen from working on a criminal case in Russia.

On his return to Helsinki Saturday night, the lawyer said that he “realize[s] that I am not wanted in Russia. Back in time, I was persona non grata in the Soviet Union — now I am the same in Russia as well. […] I would like to know the official reason [for my arrest]. Naturally, they will never disclose the actual reason,” Silvennoinen suggested

He said he suspects he was arrested because of Moscow’s efforts to “criminalize” any deviation from Moscow’s official line on World War II and because of his work with Russian clients. Silvennoinen said he would not go back to Russia but would meet Russian clients in Helsinki: “Russia has gone full Soviet again. It is better to stay away.”

Because this incident has been resolved and because neither Helsinki nor Moscow have commented officially, there is a strong likelihood that little will be said.  But it is clear that this is part of a broader effort by the Putin regime against anyone in Finland who criticizes it. To give but one example, there currently denial of service attacks against some Finnish sites.

            Russian President Putin is clearly behind such actions.  In March, he declared that Stalin had launched the Winter War in order to “correct” mistakes of earlier Bolshevik leaders who had allowed Finland’s border with the USSR to come within “17-20 kilometers” of Petersburg (

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