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Finnish Russophobia: The Story of an Enemy Image

Heikki Luostarinen
Journal of Peace Research
Vol. 26, No. 2 (May, 1989), pp. 123-137
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/423864
Page Count: 15
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Finnish Russophobia: The Story of an Enemy Image
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Abstract

Using Finnish images of the Soviet Union as an example, the processes in which enemy images emerge and are dissolved are discussed. Special attention is given to factors which strengthen enemy images independently of a real external threat, for reasons arising from within the group. The preconditions for the enemy image of the Soviet Union that developed in the so-called First Finnish Republic (1918-44) were for the most part created after 1899 with the onset of a Russianization policy. The outcomes of the civil wars in Finland and Russia were completely opposite, and this had significant consequences: Finland became separated from Russia not only as an independent state, but also in ideological terms. Russophobia began to spread in a situation where there was a growing political need to strengthen national integration in a war-torn country and to explain the Civil War as having been caused by external factors. The fears of a Russian aggression were further strengthened by the commitment of the young Soviet state to the principles of the Communist International. Following World War II, several factors contributed to the dissolution of the enemy image: cultural, political, and economic interaction and exchange with the Soviet Union increased, the 1948 Treaty between the countries meant that the argument of an armed Soviet threat no longer had any currency, political power decentralized, the integration problems were largely solved, and the whole Finnish national identity changed with the new role that Finnish people had in the international community as bridge-builders. Today, Russophobia no longer exists in Finland, although the Soviet social system is still widely and often heavily criticized.

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