It’s very symbolic for us, Ukrainians, that Finland’s Independence Day is on the same date when we honour the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In spite of a distance of over a thousand kilometres, there are similarities between our states.
First of all, there are historical parallels. Finland proclaimed its independence in December 1917. Ukraine did it a month later – on January 22, 1918. Both states fought against the red army. In the summer of 1917 Eino Leino passionately wrote:
Kaunis Ukraina, kansojen suola! Sulla on lippu ja meillä on tie. Myötäs on myrskyssä Suomi ja Puola, Myös Viro, Lätti ja Liettua lie. Eespäin, Ukraina! Et ole orja, itse jos toivot ja tahdot sa sen. Kuuletko kuoron, mi suur’ on ja sorja kuin meri kansojen kauhtuvien?
We were on the same page in resisting russification. Eugen Schauman, who killed Governor-General of Finland Bobrikov, was born in Kharkiv. Schauman’s bloodstained shirt is displayed at the National Museum of Finland. Kharkiv is under constant missile attacks from russia, and Ukraine still has to deal with the consequences of a long-term massive and forced russification.
Eugen’s sister Sigrid, an artist, was born in Chuhuiv. That town is the birthplace of Illja Repin, who started his artistic life in Ukraine and finished it in Finland. Both states consider him an important cultural figure. Among Repin’s masterpieces one can easily recall the works on Ukrainian topics. The artist was fond of Ukraine’s spirit of freedom. He planned to open a free art school in Chuhuiv: ‘We will create Zaporizhja of art. Come anyone, who wants, and study, what you want’. His plans were interrupted by WWI. Nowadays Chuhuiv, a town of free land, is being destroyed in the russo-Ukrainian war.
When we think about Ukrainian defenders nowadays, very often we think about Finnish soldiers in Winter war. Both responded to an attack of a greedy and cunning neighbor, bravely and without any hesitation. Both were eager to defend their children. Finns were and Ukrainian are keen to build a prosperous society for descendants after war. It is vital for the latter to remember and honor those who sacrificed their lives to give a chance to the next generation.
Trust and responsibility that are in the core of the Finnish society. Unfortunately, because of the soviet regime Ukrainians had lost their trust for a long time. Unfortunately, because of the soviet regime Ukrainians had lost their trust for a long time.
Now dozen thousands of Ukrainians, who fled the war, learn about the core values of Finland. It is easy because we know a lot about respect, dignity and gratefulness. On behalf of Ukrainians in Finland we’d like to thank Finns for their support, understanding, and involvement. We will become closer to each other in spite of a distance of thousands kilometers, thanks to similarities between our states.