This story is kurai's proposition.

Me and the Soviet Union

When I was still living in Haapavesi, the Social security staff from my former hometown, Kalajoki, visited me sometimes because I knew too much of the history of the Socialistic Soviet Union.

You, dear reader, must bear in mind that I was born in 1985, and had the Soviet bear as my eastern neigbour for a total of 6 years. My early experiences on that country were limited on what the Finnish media told me. And my mother. The slavophile she is, her stories still fill me with both admiration and fear.

One of my earliest memories when I was playing around in the kindergarten, and yelled something about the Soviet Union. One of the nurses there remarked that the Soviet Union no longer existed and that let me down a bit.

However, no matter how you look at it, the Soviet Union existed, right east to me. And it also had a long Russian history as a backstory. Also, the Russian culture, I have read Nikolai Gogol's Dead Souls, Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and The Idiot. I have also tried the Brothers Karamazov with only minor success.

The Czars ruled Russian tribes for centuries, but it wasn't until 1917 two great revolutions hit Russia. Afterwards, V. I. Lenin founded the Soviet Union. Lenin had some trouble with completing their Marxist plans and had to take steps backwards and forwards.

Lenin was succeeded by his comrade Stalin who led his country to and through the World War II. As a result, my land lost some area, and had to pay big war reparations. We also signed up the Finno-Soviet Treaty of 1948 with those Russians. In Finnish, that treaty had a catchy name, YYA-sopimus, i.e. Ystävyys-, Yhteistyö- ja Avunanto-sopimus.

Stalin died in 1953, and was replaced by Nikita Khrushchev, probably my favourite Soviet leader, the one who distinguished himself in the space race with USA, the other superpower, rather than war. Yuri Gagarin even circled our planet in 1961. Nikita was also a friend of our president, Urho Kaleva Kekkonen.

After Khrushchev came Leonid Brezhnev, who was also Kekkonen's sauna friend, but his health declined a lot in his later years. According to a joke, Brezhnev once proposed to Kekkonen should they remove the border between our countries. But Kekkonen said that he (Kekkonen) would be too old to govern such a big country!

Brezhnev was replaced by Yuri Andropov, and then Konstantin Chernenko, and eventually Mikhail Gorbachev. Almost my namesake. Now, in 2019, Gorbachev is still alive, and he saw the Soviet Union dissolving to smaller countries. At least the name 'YYA-sopimus' remained in everyday Finnish vocabulary.