The End of Spatialised Finlandisation?

The Fate of Soviet Statues in Finland since 2022

  • Olga Juutistenaho (Autor/in)


This article examines debates related to Soviet statues in Finland in 2022. The war in Ukraine marked a political and cultural shift in Finland, as the country abandoned its previous neutrality policy and joined NATO. In terms of public space, this development was reflected in debates on and removals of Soviet-donated statues erected during the Cold War. In this article, discussions surrounding the World Peace Statue in Helsinki, and the Lenin statues in Turku and Kotka are used as examples. Standing at the centre of Finnish 2022 debates, opinions on these statues were divided: the public opinion was mainly in favour of removals, whereas several academics and other expert voices expressed scepticism. The debate was selective and focused on Soviet donations created by Soviet artists, while neglecting other Russian elements in Finnish public space. The removal of these statues is linked to the wider societal process of redefining the geopolitical position of Finland, functioning as a political stand in support of Ukraine, as well as symbolising a new era in the Finnish politics of memory. In many ways, the discussion can be seen as a belated reaction to the heritage of Finlandisation and the Cold War.